Plunging into Titus

Posted by BWSmith on Thursday, 24 June 1999 at 9:39 pm

Dear Ladies,

How'ja like to spend six weeks this summer on only 46 verses. (If I added right!)

Forty-six verses in six weeks? Isn't this gonna be a bit . . . slow? Now, those 46 verses were written by Paul, who you know has a gazillion ideas in each sentence! He wrote shortly before his death to Titus, who was pastoring a new church in a community of folks who shared many of our own trials and triumphs, and our "limitations." (Titus 1:12)

A letter about requirements for elders and regulations for the church may not seem like the most appealing summer study. But let's explore what it means to be an "older" woman in the Church. (Titus 2:3)
Here's the schedule for those who wish to comment, or raise questions:
The TOPIC? Growing Up Grace-fully

June 25, 1999 Introduction:
Who Wrote Whom What & Why Titus 1:1-4

July 2, 1999 NO Class for July 4 Celebrations (Lotza time for your homework!)

July 9, 1999
Paul's Simple Assignment to Titus Titus 1:5-9

July 16, 1999
Practical Behavior Titus 1:10-16

July 23, 1999
Can We Change the Subject, Here? Titus 2:1-10

July 30, 1990
Theology for everyday living . . . Titus 2:11-3:7

August 6, 1999
Doing the Dishes with confidence Titus 3:8-15

"And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful. . . . Grace be with you all." (Titus 3:14-15)

Read Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Thought Question: What "fruit" do you want to increase in your life through this summer Bible
study.

Homework to be discussed by July 9, 1999
In the next two weeks, make a point to read Titus through 3 times without a break.

Review the verses on Paul & Timothy, who were real men with a real mission to real people, the Cretans! See what you can find out about 1st Century Crete.

Review the following passages and note what you learn about Paul and Titus and the Cretans.
Acts 2:11

Acts 27

Titus 1:4

2 Cor 2:13

2 Cor 5:6

2 Cor 7:6-7

2 Cor 7:13-14

2 Cor 8:6, 16-23

2 Cor 12:17-18

Gal 2:1-3

Now — spend some time in praise and worship. SING these hymns, ladies -- become a praise chorus this summer, OK? Here's some hymn suggestions:
"Trust & Obey" by John H. Sammis, 1887.
Spend some time, line by line examining if the words are true of your life.

"Christ Hath a Garden" By Isaac Watts (1674-1748).
Music: "Leighton," arranged from William Leighton, circa 1614 (Beautiful words, don't know the tune.)

Christ hath a garden walled around,
A paradise of fruitful ground,
Chosen by love and fenced by grace
From out the world's wilderness.

Like trees of spice His servants stand,
There planted by His mighty hand;
By Eden's gracious streams, that flow
To feed their beauty where they grow.

Awake, O wind of heav'n, and bear
Their sweetest perfume through the air;
Stir up, O south, the boughs that bloom,
Till the belovθd Master come.

That He may come, and linger yet
Among the trees that He hath set;
That He may evermore be seen
To walk amid the springing green.

A Christian Home
By Barbara B. Hunt to the tune of "Finlandia"

O give us homes built firmly on the Savior,
Where Christ is Head and Counselor and Guide;
Where every child is taught His love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:
How sweet to know that though his footsteps waver
His faithful Lord is waking by his side.

O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers,
Who always place their hope and trust in Him:
Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers,
Whose calm and courage trouble can-not dim;
A home where each finds joy in serving others,
And love still shines, tho days be dark and grim.

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!
We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;
Their bonds of love no enemy can sever.
If Thou art always Lord and Master there:
Be Thou the center of our least endeavor --
Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.


Love in Christ,
BWSmith


IN THE GARDEN

"Thinking He was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me
where you have put Him, and I will get Him.'" John 20:15
Words & Music: Charles Austin Miles, 1913

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

Refrain

I'd stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Refrain

GIVE TO THE WINDS THY FEARS "I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Psalms 34:4
Words: Paul Gerhardt, 1656; Music: Diademata.

Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head.

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Wait thou His time; so shall this night
Soon end in joyous day.

What though Thou rulest not;
Yet heaven, and earth, and hell
Proclaim, God sitteth on the throne,
And ruleth all things well.

And whatsoe'er Thou will'st,
Thou dost, O King of kings;
What Thine unerring wisdom chose,
Thy power to being brings.

Leave to God's sovereign sway
To choose and to command;
So shalt thou, wondering, own that way,
How wise, how strong this hand.

Let us in life, in death,
Thy steadfast truth declare,
And publish with our latest breath
Thy love and guardian care.


Any discusion yet? Questions? Comments?

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 9:55 am , in response to Plunging into Titus, posted by BWSmith on Thursday, 24 June 1999 at 9:39 pm

Observations?


A couple of thoughts..

Posted by Ellen Stanclift (ME) on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 3:20 pm , in response to Any discusion yet? Questions? Comments?, posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 9:55 am

Hi Barbara !

I really think that Paul's letter to Titus is the clearest 'road map' in terms of Christian life, that I've read in the NT. Whereas other books have mainly philosophical ideas and where Paul has often had to 'bring back' new Christians to the Gospel when they have become confused, Titus seems to focus more on everyday life. What I appreciate about this is that Paul's thoughts to us are direct, not 'cloaked' in metaphor and give us clear instruction.

Sadly, I can say I know few people who profess to be Christians who are living this life. I am truly trying to live out this vision...and people have called me 'archaic'. How can this clear cut scripture be viewed as archaic, when the rest of the gospel be seen as 'fresh' ?

Just my rambling thoughts...

Love,
Ellen


Good question!

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 4:46 pm , in response to A couple of thoughts.., posted by Ellen Stanclift (ME) on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 3:20 pm

Hi Sweetie!
Wouldn't it be great if we could be sitting altogether, sipping coffee or tea and chatting about our lessons? In heaven, we will!

Paul's letter to Titus *is* straightforward, with emphasis on GOOD DEEDS! Titus was to be an example of a sensible young man in the midst of young men who had no role model. (Titus 2:6-7) How many women give their hearts to the Savior, but have little role-modeling. We can learn from the word; but how many churches have slipped their moorings to the word? That's who you and I must be, role-models, even if no other woman says, "Oh, thanks for showing us!" Our daughters will, Ellen!

It is Christ who will make His people zealous for good deeds, like loving our husbands and children and being content at home. (Titus 2:14) None of us will be zealous for good deeds unless Christ acts in our lives. This something I am convicted to pray about for my church family and for the chf family!

Paul urges Titus to teach those who believe God to *be careful* to engage in good deeds. Again, I get the sense that doing good was not second nature to the Cretans. Americans have such big hearts, we do good deeds often without thinking. So how can we apply this verse, (Titus 3:8)? How does this verse challenge my prayer life for myself, children, spouse . . .pastors?

Again, Paul says doing good must be learned. (Titus 3:14) Doing good not for our personal satisfaction, but doing good to meet *pressing* needs; doing good so that we might be *fruitful*
WOW does that give me something to pray for when our church sets the annual budget and plans activities.

But you know, Ellen, I stumble frequently in my Christian walk: doing and saying that which I am ashamed of. If some of you could see my failures of faith and deeds, you'd be shocked and maybe disappointed and think, "Yeah, she's not walking the walk!" (And I have an idea many who read these boards struggle a bit in their testimony, too.)

As we study more about Titus, we will see how tactful and yet firm he was — he had some tough assignments, in situations that were uncomfortable, to say the least. Yet he triumphed, and managed to be a comfort to Paul.

It doesn't matter how our "detractors" label us if we are obeying Christ. I know from previous posts that you are in a bit of crucible, now, dear friend. As the hurt crushes in, I am praying that you will be the aroma of Jesus Christ. Pray that those who despitefully use you will wake up and smell the "coffee!" Unless these women open their hearts to the Savior now, their suffering will be far mor stunning than what they are heaping on you now!

When we look at Titus 1:1-4 and begin to dig into Paul's greeting, do you see that he was certain of whose he was? He was imprisoned and had suffered dreadfully for Christ's sake.

How does Paul describe himself that can be our description?

How can his mission be ours?

I think I am gonna chew on this for awhile.

More later, God willing.
Love in Christ.
BWS


I'd like to join but new to this Question?

Posted by Laurie in chicago on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 10:36 am , in response to Plunging into Titus, posted by BWSmith on Thursday, 24 June 1999 at 9:39 pm

I would really like to study this with you and learn more! How do I do this? Sorry if this is a silly question. Do I just visit this site and that is it for the discussion and study? Thank you for your thoughtfulness and dedication to Christ.
Peace in Christ, Laurie


CHICAGO! Doug and I got engaged there . . .

Posted by BWSmith on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 10:46 am , in response to I'd like to join but new to this Question?, posted by Laurie in chicago on Tuesday, 29 June 1999 at 10:36 am

back in APRIL of 1972.
Hi Laurie!
No such thing as a silly question -- there are not exactly road maps for this kinda study!
What I am doing is reading through the entire book of Titus --not exactly a stretch three times --
I read it our loud this AM — just like Titus may have read it?
I am looking up the references about Paul and Titus — and the early church and sometimes that means being careful to read the verse in the context of the verses before and after.
I am looking at maps.
I am doing a little ancient history review too — which is kinda fun.
And I am thinking about the task that Titus faced — and that Paul faced in trying to care for those he loved long distance and imprisoned.
And now I am thinking about what all this means to me?
OK — next I am going to look line by line at Titus 1:1-4. Using a dictionary and concordance I am gonna look up some words, like GRACE and PEACE and then . . .
I'll let you know ;0)
May God apply His word that we need to our hearts!
Love in Christ,
bws


Tidbits about "Titus"

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 25 June 1999 at 1:10 pm

WOW! Seems like some of us are serious about becoming Titus 2 women!

We started our study this AM (27 women came, with several children). And my FRIEND and co-teacher, Flo Wolfe, got us started with some interesting background.

If you will review the passages, you will probably come to the same conclusions about the writer of this letter and the recipient. Paul was a "pure" Jew, writing to a "pure" Greek, who may have been Luke's brother. (Source: Holman Master Study Bible) Now that's an interesting picture, isn't it?

For the cause of Christ Paul lost all the things we seem to have trouble living without: prestige, power, prosperity. (Philippians 3:1-11) Yet, he was passionate for obedience to God. (Phil 3:5-6)
So, he suffered in ways that by God's grace none of us have suffer. (Five times he felt the scourge of 39 lashes, for example. See 2 Cor 11:22-33 for a list of Paul's "credentials.")

Flo highlighted Paul's private struggles: the daily concern for those churches he helped established. Their vitality influenced his! (2 Cor 11:28-29) Their struggles with sin, ( and the early church was rife with struggles!), intensely concerned him, even though he was not physically present.

Flo suggested we might remember the churches influential in our walk, positively and negatively, and pray for them. Pray for those under whose teaching I learned the word; pray for those who modeled Christ; pray for the church I left because of doctrinal difference that they might receive an outpouring of grace and truth from the Holy SPIRIT of God, so to please HIM, the author and perfecter of the Church's faith.

Now that has not be high on my prayer list! But how else will revival come?

In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul explains how God kept him from exalting in himself, even in his trials! He asked to be delivered, but God said "No." And I read, as if for the first time: "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

**"I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; . . ." **

This past week, I have not borne gracefully the weaknesses that are slowing my down! I am livid about a few insults tossed my way. I have needed some minor, transitory goods, and acted *as if* my life hung in the balance.

I wonder what a Christian from the Sudan would think of my "thorns?"

From our discussion this AM, a woman cross-referenced 2 Cor 12:7 to Numbers 33:55-56: "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land in which you live. And it shall come about that as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you."

Could this suggest: Christians must be about the King's business, and the very discomforts we suffer might just be a simple reminder to get busy for the Lord? I know this is a stretch. But what I thought about was how FAST I complain.

Now to Titus, who got this note.
He was a Greek, a Gentile, whether or not a relative of Luke's. Greeks weren't crazy about Cretans. Greeks weren't too impressed with Christians (Acts 17)

He was a witness to, and almost a victim of, the destructive work that the Judaizers tried to inflict on new Christians. ( Galatians 2:1- 4) Paul gave him TOUGH assignments that required tact, from coping with the Corinthians to collecting money, and then being sent to Crete, no picnic! Yet, tradition holds that Titus impact on the Cretans was powerful: "the name of Titus was the watchword of the Cretans when they were invaded by the Venetians." (Smith, Dict., s.v.)
Next what meaning and application does Paul' greeting to Titus have? Flo suggested a simple equation: Faith in Jesus Christ + knowledge of the Truth, circumscribed by the promised hope of eternal life equals GODLINESS.

The aim of this study, as was the aim of Paul's letter to Titus, is to build the Body — finish the work, set in order the work to do. Whether it's big stuff like church government, or managing simple homes, GODLINESS is the bottom line. Godliness which tells the truth about Jesus and brings glory to God.
Whew!
I am excited about the word! And I am praying for all your labors.
BWS
PS — don't forget to SING!


Thank you so much!

Posted by Jen on Saturday, 26 June 1999 at 6:04 pm , in response to Tidbits about "Titus", posted by BWSmith on Friday, 25 June 1999 at 1:10 pm

In my readings last night He revealed so much to me. My journal has some great things for my heart to read and read over.

I feel like a child on Christmas morning.

Thank you! Thank you!


Check THIS out

Posted by BWSmith on Monday, 28 June 1999 at 3:49 pm , in response to Tidbits about "Titus", posted by BWSmith on Friday, 25 June 1999 at 1:10 pm

Tamara posted this on Titus 2 board --

Suggested URL: Elisabeth Elliot at http://www.gospelcom.net/ligonier/tt/tt-02-96/ttsubartelliot-02-96.html


One observation . . .

Posted by catherine(GA) on Thursday, 8 July 1999 at 1:25 pm , in response to Tidbits about "Titus", posted by BWSmith on Friday, 25 June 1999 at 1:10 pm

Hi -

As I read through Titus, I was struck by the simplicity of the mandates in the book. Paul did not recommend changing the social agenda or government. No petitions, marches or protests here. Instead He focuses on organizing the individual lives (hearts) of the people in the church. Kinda reminds me that *my* agenda is not so important at all. And I don't need to be working so hard to change the Cret- ...er, people that I seem to be surrounded by daily. :-)

Just trust and obey, right??

God Bless.
Catherine


Yeah -- just trust & Obey . . . easy pie! (nt)

Posted by BWSmith on Thursday, 8 July 1999 at 5:47 pm , in response to One observation . . ., posted by catherine(GA) on Thursday, 8 July 1999 at 1:25 pm

*


Discussion on Titus

Posted by Joanne on Thursday, 8 July 1999 at 2:48 pm , in response to Tidbits about "Titus", posted by BWSmith on Friday, 25 June 1999 at 1:10 pm

I've been reading and singing and been blessed *g* Prayer: Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. AMEN.

Paul placed Titus, a faithful and courageous servant and apostle, in Crete for the building up of the Body. Cretans were present at Pentecost and upon returning home brought the gospel to their fellow Cretans. Only problem was, the new Body in Crete could not break the pagan influences, rebelliousness and errors. Sound familiar? Paul's fatherly, protective heart agonized for the new believers. For this reason, he left Titus in Crete to help create healthy leadership and godly influences. On one hand, he was to select qualified elders (experienced and mature, something that is not always done today) and to speak and teach sound doctrine. On the other hand, he was to combat error by rebuking false doctrines and heresies. I admire this balanced approach. We can't or shouldn't do one without the other.

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

1 Thes. 5:14: "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all."

Instruction in righteousness will make the difference in a church like Crete! Growing in grace was something that Titus witnessed in Corinth. He saw transformation and refinement through the power of the Holy Spirit. He witnessed change firsthand. He was now annointed to lead others in this same manner. In the flesh, it could seem impossible, there were few mentors, few righteous influences, laziness, lying, wolves in sheeps clothing... Ohhh, but in the Spirit, by the Blood of Jesus Christ, is the promise that it is possible!
I could just see Titus leading worship, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Oh to be desired are they than gold yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."

So, what I learned from this first lesson:
Strong leadership is the sign of a healthy church.
A good leader trains other leaders.
Change is possible through the Holy Spirit.
Learn to be an example of godly truths.

IN HIS CARE AND LOVE,
Joanne


You make an important point:

Posted by BWSmith on Thursday, 8 July 1999 at 5:53 pm , in response to Discussion on Titus, posted by Joanne on Thursday, 8 July 1999 at 2:48 pm

"good leaders train others."
Sometimes I slip into a mindset that says it's easier to do it myself! ANd I wind up like Martha, stretched and less than charming.
Communicating passion for the job and building skills so others can serve -- is an aspect of leadership that sometimes gets submereged.
It certainly reminds me of how I can pray for the elders in our church -- that they train others.
bws


Lesson #2: Paul's Simple Assignment -- Titus 1:5-9

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 9 July 1999 at 3:38 pm

The goal in studying Titus is to increase our faith and to grow in the knowledge of the Truth – for that was the apostle Paul's reason for writing Titus, his true child in the faith. As we gro in faith and knowledge, we will grow in godliness. We will change our actions and our attitudes; the Holy Spirit will enable us to live closer to Jesus Christ as we cooperate in separating from the world.

Background on Crete.
The island country in the Mediterranean Sea is 156 miles long and forms a natural bridge between Europe and Asia Minor. It is from seven to thirty miles miles wide. By 1400 BC, Crete boasted more than 140 cities! It is probably identified with CAPHTOR (Deut. 2:23; Amos 9:7), the place from which the Philistines (Caphtorim) originated. (Nelson's Bible Dictionary)

Did you know that the sense of the world "Crete" means "fleshy?"

Flo Wolfe pointed out an interesting tidbit: "syncretism" is from Greek, meaning the federation of Cretan cities, and means the combination of different forms of belief or practice. Surely this captures the essence of Cretan history!

Its civilization, the Minoan, dates back to three to four millennia BC, and produced stone carving, gold work, jewelry, pottery, and writing on clay and cooper tablets. The island was subjected to periodic violent earthquakes which did not appear to destroy the civilization, but scholars believe internal dissensions kept Crete from prominence in ancient times. (The NIV Dictionary of the Bible).

A number of legends are associated with Crete, particularly those involving King Minos and the Minotaur (the half-bull, half man monster). The Minoans worshiped a snake goddess, and its favorite sport was bull-leaping. Shipping expanded as commerce grew during the BRONZE age. Their ships may have gone as far west as Spain.

The Minoans were eventually overrun by the Greeks and the remaining Minoans took to the mountains and called themselves true CRETANS. This people became a source of fascination to the Greeks who formed myths and legends about the Cretans. Mt Ida is the legendary birthplace of Zeus, the head of the Greek Pantheon. ARISTOTLE said the culture of Crete was like that of Sparta. The island was captured by the Romans in 68-66 B. C. and made a Roman province, renamed Cyrenicia.

Cretan lifestyle was known for its excesses. Plutarch described Cretans as lazy and traitorous. Cretans were known as sailors and pirates. In writing to Titus, Paul quoted from the Greek poet Epimenides of Knossos (about 600 B. C.) that "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." (Titus 1:12)
This must have presented a real challenge for Titus, who was assigned the responsibility to "set in order the things that are lacking" in the Cretan church. (Titus 1:5) (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary) Christianity flourished under Titus, but slid into the dark ages after Crete or Cyrenicia was absorbed in the Byzantium Empire about 395 AD. For years Crete was under the control o f the Arabs and Islam. Eventually Crete and Greece formed a union in 1913 and to this day, the language and religion of Crete is Greek and Orthodox.

Jews settled on Crete and formed a Jewish colony in 140 B.C. for Cretans were among those present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:11).During his voyage to Rome, Paul's ship touched at Fair Havens, a harbor on the south coast of Crete. (Acts 27:8) Not heeding Paul's advice about the weather, the Roman soldier who held Paul in custody agreed with the captain and set sail for Crete's large harbor at Phoenix. The result was a shipwreck at Malta <Acts 27:9--28:1>.

Paul had previously written to Titus: "You are my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." He blessed Titus with grace and peace. Paul passed on what he had received that he did not deserve to Titus, who merited neither grace nor peace, so that he might bless the Cretan Christians with that which God lavished upon those who seek grace and peace.

What more could Titus leave the Cretans, than grace and peace? Like manna, these gifts sustain us but we must not horde either! Receive it, give it; receive it, give it.
What more would we leave our children than a heritage of grace of and peace?
Money and materials will be burned up, if they are not first dissipated.
Fame doesn't last.

About Paul's Simple Assignment to Titus . . .
If you read through Paul's letter several times, did you pick Paul's tone?
1. The tone of Paul's letter is urgent – Present tense, imperative verbs I saw an urgency in Paul's carefully chosen words. Paul's urgency came from the conviction he shared with Timothy: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." (2 Tim 4:3-4)

Crete was a people ensnared by myths. Modern-day Americans are blinded by some national, cultural and religious myths. Can you think of any that make you anxious to promote godly men who will teach and lead and disciple their flocks?

2. The Timing: Paul's simple assignment sounds like an open-ended commitment. Getting saved takes a second; getting sanctified – that takes a life-time. However, Paul wanted Titus to get the job done and come to him (3:12)

Have you ever considered the progress of your sanctification, if no other Christian spent time with you? Could your crowded calendar of "stuff" be rearranged to build the faith of God's elect – not the refined, churched folks, but the Cretans in our society?
Preachers win folks to Christ, and those folks come out of a culture which is snycretistic as the Cretans! Our culture does not rebuke equivocation or debauchery, and we seem to reward laziness. Who has time to teach the Cretans?

3. The task: (1:5) For this reason [FOR the faith of the elect of God, and that includes CRETANS!, I am in the business of building Christians, men and women who look like their Maker.] This is YOU business, Titus; that is why, " I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, . . ."

4. The TRIAL: "Appoint elders in every city, as I directed you,. . ." Consider the number of cities on that island. By 1400 BC, Crete had six or seven cities spread out over mountains! Imagine the prospect of winning the confidence of people so that one could appoint elders!

Titus, who was a Greek and possibly Luke's brother, (postulated by W. A. Ramsay, classical scholar and archaeologist, 1851-1939) was a courageous and resourceful man.
Remember the mix in the Cretan flock:
Some had just enough knowledge to immunize them against obedience. These folks had been in Jerusalem at Pentecost, but did not understand.
Some Cretans were saved, but were untutored in the Scriptures.
Others were Jewish.
Many were Greek-Cretans, whose culture was deeply tied to mythology and excesses.
He clearly lived by faith in God. Unless the unseen Hand of God moved the hearts of these people, Titus' could not complete Paul's simple assignment. Unless God made the provision every rugged step, Titus could not travel from city to city.

Remember the simple acrostic, "Forsaking All I Take Him? What did Titus forsake so that he might take Christ to the Cretans? By the way, have you done a word study on FAITH recently?
How can you pass on to your children what you have not first enjoyed? See the following verses and what our confidence is:
Romans 3:21-28 –
2 Cor 5:5-8:
Galatians 2:20
Colossians 1:21-23
Hebrews 11:1-6


So, Paul's simple assignment was for Titus to travel extensively through Crete, appointing elders, as Paul had directed. Paul did not ask Titus to do something without directing him! The old saw is, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." The task was too big for Paul, and managing the church on Crete would be too big for Titus. As Moses' father-in-law urged him select out . . . able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and place {these} over them, so Paul urged Titus. (See Exodus18:17-24 .)

Why We Can't Skip Over the Qualifications for Elders
Paul carefully spelled out the requirements – 2,000 year old requirements. And Paul was confident these men were in Crete! WHY? Paul believed God who began a good work in Crete would perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.(Phil 1:6) This was his practice through out the churches, ". . . when they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed." (Acts 14:23)
Titus was not responsible for creating godly leaders; that was God's work! He simply had to find men who were "above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion." Paul repeats: "the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward. "Above reproach" doesn't mean perfect; but it describes a man who is not under an "ill character."
Studying these verse reminded me of how I am not praying for the leadership of our local church!
Actions & Attitudes: :
Problems continue to happen in the most doctrinally sound home! Elders, who are examples and stewards o f the efficacy of the word, will have the same troubles as the flock in their care. However, by their response, they will show how to trust God and obey.
1. Elders must practice conjugal chastity.
2. Their children should be faithful and obedient, "at least as far as the endeavors of parents can avail." (Matthew Henry)
3. Not self-willed, not quick-tempered,
4. Not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but
5. Hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
6. Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.
What elders do, and how they do it is the most eloquent lesson they teach! Sound doctrine is reinforced by practical Christian living. A healthy church has both; Christian doctrine is mutually dependent on Christian practice.
Remember Acts 14:23? Elders were appointed by Paul "having prayed with fasting." Hmmmmm: How long do you pray, and what will you set aside, so that you might continue in discerning prayer when your church elects leaders?
Maybe some of the leadership crises we endure is tied to the flocks' spiritual discipline?
Maybe the flock is too quick to elect men who can keep the church doors open, instead of men who will work for a "harvest"? "Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. ‘Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.'" (Matt 9:37-38)
In the first century church, elders were an informal form of church government. In the second century, their rule became more formal. Usually more than one elder was appointed per assembly and they were men who managed their finances, "shepherded" the local flock and settled doctrinal disputes.
They were men of prayer – for no seminaries trained them. However they were teachable. They were men who worshiped and studied the Old Testament scrolls and the pastoral letters of Paul and Peter; men who were hungry to read the Gospel accounts that circulated around the first century church.
So, if, or when, you are asked to propose candidates to lead your church, how has a review of Paul's check-list helped you? How will you evaluate the candidates?

Now, About Sound Doctrine: ". . . that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."
Are we who are not appointed elders released , therefore, from applying this verse to our faith and practice?

"Sound," meaning whole, healthy; "doctrine," meaning the matter, the content of any teaching. Teaching and doctrine are usually synonymous. In the Bible, doctrine is "A body of beliefs about God, man, Christ, the church, and other related concepts considered authoritative and thus worthy of acceptance by all members of the community of faith." (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary) Sound doctrine means healthy knowledge, but it assumes a healthy heart set on obeying God.

Many of the apostles were still living when Paul wrote Titus. Prophets, evangelists and teachers traveled from city to city with messages. The Didache was a manual for churches from 70 - 110 AD and laid down rules for discerning prophets and regulating hospitality. Sound doctrine may be the "plumb line" for preachers and elders deacons, but it is essential for vital Christian faith!

It is how we test ourselves: "Test yourselves {to see} if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Cor 13:5)

The organization of the first church was loose, even as its doctrine was tight. "After Pentecost, Christian doctrine began to be systematized. (See Acts 2:42. )
Doctrinal instruction was given by special teachers to those who had responded to the gospel . (See 1 Cor. 12:28-29; Gal. 6:6 & Rom. 6:17.)
The earliest doctrine of the Christian church declared:
(1) that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ; (Acts 3:18)
(2) that God had raised Him from the dead (Acts 1:22; 2:24,32); and
(3) that salvation was by faith in His name (Acts 2:38; 2:16).

These three truths were presented as a clear fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament. Paul taught that true doctrine is essential for Christian growth; (See Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Tim. 4:6; 6:3; Titus 1:9) and that false doctrine destroys the church. (See Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:3)." (Nelson's Bible Dictionary)

The earliest sketches of the Christian church suggest assemblies that met in homes large enough to accommodate the folks (Romans 16:5) "Ekklesia" was the Greek word for these assemblies who prayed and sang, and enjoyed scripture discussion (Col. 3:16) The faithful ate, celebrated the Lord's Supper, and baptized coverts. (1 Cor. 1:13-17, 11:7-34) They cared for poor members, widows and orphans. (1 Timothy 5:13-16) So doctrines of the faith were taught by "doing"!

Can non-seminary types spot doctrinal errors? Yes! "Jesus therefore answered them, and said, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or {whether} I speak from Myself." (John 7:16-17)

Look how Christ evaluated doctrine: "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'" Unsound teachers are "blind guides of the blind!" (Matt 15:8-9

". . . He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. ‘Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.'" (Matt 15:13-14)

The early church struggled with sound doctrine and so came together and outlined doctrine.
(See Acts 15:6-29.) What did these men decide that helps you test your doctrine?

If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, so vigilance is the cost of maintaining sound doctrine. Paul warned the Church to be vigilant to maintain sound doctrine. (Study Rom 16:17-18; Col 2:4, 8, 18-23; 1 Tim 1:3-7; 4:1-8 and 6:3-5.)

And Paul's cry to Timothy is the unspoken cry of so many parents: "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly {and} empty chatter {and} the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"-- which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you." ( 1 Tim 6:20-21)

Paul contrasted the Law and doctrine to Timothy. (See 1 Tim 1:8-11) Our doctrine is the sum of our faith and practice; it will determine what we do for Christ and how we grow up in the faith. Paul wove together SERVICE and doctrine and growth in Christ. (See Eph 4:11-16 ) If your doctrine is not right – sound, your service for Christ will suffer. If you would serve Christ, study the teaching of His church, select your rulers with care, and pray for their service.


Wow!

Posted by Nadine Woods, SC on Tuesday, 13 July 1999 at 2:51 pm , in response to Lesson #2: Paul's Simple Assignment -- Titus 1:5-9, posted by BWSmith on Friday, 9 July 1999 at 3:38 pm

Dear Barbara,

Thank you so much for all the time you've invested in this Bible study! I really had never given any thought to the body of believers to whom Titus was ministering. Wow, this really helps me to realize the importance of this small book in my life.

First, Crete definitely contained a mixture of various cultures and beliefs. Take the combination of Greek and Minoan culture, spice it with the ideas and practices and beliefs of who knows how many other cultures thanks to the commerce and activity provided by all the sea ports, and you probably have quite a varied mix of ideas, practices, faiths, and people. It sounds like a nightmare for trying to maintain sound doctrine. It also sounds awfully familiar to our present day nation.

"Cretan lifestyle was known for its excesses. Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." Ouch! No one could ever suggest that our nation is one characterized by self control and temperance. And liars? What was it our president was just saying? Evil beasts? I wonder how many serial murderers and rapists are even now walking on our streets. Lazy? We have pre-cut scotch tape! Gluttons? What percent of our population is over weight? Really this could be us. I *really* need to study this book!

What an overwhelming task Paul assigned to Titus. Out of *this* he has to find leaders for God's church! These had to be men of such character that they would be able to hold to the faithful Word they had been taught and would be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. And after Titus found these men he had to set the church in order!

"Getting saved takes a second; getting sanctified – that takes a life-time." But because "Paul wanted Titus to get the job done and come to him" (3:12) how much more important that Titus find the *right* men. Titus must have spent so much time on his knees, seeking the Lord's direction and counsel in this overwhelming task.

You said, "He (Titus) clearly lived by faith in God. Unless the unseen Hand of God moved the hearts of these people, Titus' could not complete Paul's simple assignment. Unless God made the provision every rugged step, Titus could not travel from city to city." Amen. Can you imagine being *so* dependent on the hand of God?

I loved this next part! "And Paul was confident these men were in Crete! WHY? Paul believed God who began a good work in Crete would perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.(Phil 1:6)" Thank you for this reminder!!! Had I been in Titus' place I would have probably said, "impossible." Even today finding men to fit these high qualifications seems difficult. And yet God who began a good work in America (in my church, in my town) will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus!

I think you made an important point when you asked, "Can non-seminary types spot doctrinal errors? Yes!" To your scripture references, I might also add John 14:16-17 "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of *truth*..." and John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said to you." It is the Spirit that empowers us and brings us into understanding and we can trust in Him; seminaries aid Him in His work.

"If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, so vigilance is the cost of maintaining sound doctrine. Paul warned the Church to be vigilant to maintain sound doctrine." Just as vigilance was necessary in the Cretan churches, oh how important it is in our churches today in our society that shows so much resemblence to Crete.

Now, can you recommend a book on early church history? I find this to be an area where I am sadly lacking in knowledge. :-( I can't wait for our next lesson!:-) Thank you again!

In Him, Nadine


HOMEWORK:Titus 1:10-16

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 9 July 1999 at 3:41 pm

Practical Behavior . . . Practical Leadership:

(Adapted from the Navigators' study on Titus)

Paul continues in his letter to Titus, explaining the reason for the urgent need to appoint elders in every town. He reminds Titus of both the internal and external opposition to the church. As you read through Titus 1:10-16, and the cross references, which describe the origin of false teachers, and the nature and consequences of their teaching, pray that you will understand what the passages mean, and what they mean to you.

1. How does Paul describe the problems Titus must address? (1:10-16)


2. From verses Titus 1: 10 and 11, describe the characteristics and the motive of the people Paul wanted silenced.


3. Let's review for a moment other passages in Scripture which address false teachers and prophets. Reminders from God's perspective on unsound doctrine will expand our understanding of Paul's insistence on sound teaching. Read Matthew 7:15-20, and 24:3-35.
What does our Lord warn against?

What claims do the false prophets make?

What abilities do they have?

Read Acts 20:17-36. What is Paul's concern for the church at Ephesus as he left them?

Why does Paul remind them of his labor in 20:34-35?

Read II Cor.11: 3, 4, 12-15 Who is the author and what is the origin of false teaching?

What is Paul's frustration with the Corinthian church's response to false teachers?

What did Paul want to do to the teachers?


Read Phillipians 3:17-19. How does one live as an enemy of the Cross?

What does 3:19 mean to you about your priorities in the body of Christ?

Read II Tim.4: 1- 4. How does Paul's charge to Timothy apply to you?


Read in Deut.: 13:1-18, and 18:18-22. What does God say about false prophets and teachers?

What do these ancient requirements mean to you?


Read Micah 3.
What was the nature of some of the teaching, and the consequences that Israel suffered?

What did you learn from this passage that reminded you of the problems on Crete?
The problems in today's Church?

Back to Paul's letter to Titus . . .
4. What was the circumcision group? (See Gal. 2:1-5, 11 -16; 6:12-16; Col. 2:6-23)

5. What do you think it means to have "minds and consciences . . . corrupted" (Titus 1:15)?

6. "To the pure, all things are pure" (1:15) is a statement that could easily be abused. In what sense do you think Paul meant it?

Review the following passages, and explain how a false teacher might twist the above to excuse sin? (See Romans 6:15, I Cor. 6:12-13, 10:23-24.)

7. Why are the false teachers "unfit for doing anything good" (Titus 1:16)?

8. How did Paul want Titus to deal with false teachers? (1: 11, 1 3) Why?


9. The word "for" in Titus 1:10 tells how 1:10 -15 relates to 1:5-9. What is the connection between the two paragraphs?


10. Titus 1:10-15 lists some clues fop discerning false teachers. Choose 3 of these traits and explain how the qualities of the true leader (1:5-9) equip him to expose and counter each trait.

11. What is the church member's responsibility in dealing with false teachers? (Verses?)

12. What is a leader's responsibility in dealing with false teachers? (References?)

13. Define "apostasy'' (Use a good dictionary)
Define "heresy'' (Use a good dictionary)
Read I John 2. What is your greatest comfort and assurance from these verses?

14. Based on chapter 1, summarize the problems Titus faced in the Cretan church.
How are the problems similar to those we encounter today?

15. Does anything in 1:10-16 call to mind any practices that you need to stop?

If so, describe what you might do about this conviction? (See Romans 6:11-14, 6:12-14.)

16. Have you had an insight from this lesson that you would like to focus on in the coming week?









Write it down, and pray for God's leading in ways to make this truth take hold in your heart.


Some Comments

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 16 July 1999 at 7:37 pm , in response to HOMEWORK:Titus 1:10-16 , posted by BWSmith on Friday, 9 July 1999 at 3:41 pm

Comments on Practical Behavior . . . Practical Leadership: Titus 1:10-16


Having completed this lesson, did you learn anything that helps you do the dishes with an attitude that would please Jesus Christ? All the Bible study in the world is so much smoke, if we aren't changed women because of the word of God!

Paul continues in his letter to Titus, explaining the reason for the urgent need to appoint elders in every town. (As many as 100 +) He reminds Titus of both the internal and external opposition to the church. Faith is more often "caught," than "taught." All the brightest Bible teachers in the world cannot communicate half the message that one soul who is sold-out to Jesus can convey with a cup of cold water! So, Paul is man with a mission: he knows the gospel of Jesus Christ is ALWAYS only one generation from *extinction. (_God Has NO Grandchildren_)

Paul is sending Titus to a rough bunch, to silence those whose actions deny God. (Has God EVER given you an assignment like that? Can you imagine going into Jonestown in 1977? Now, why is it so hard for some of us to serve as God calls?) He charges Titus to appoint elders from a group of men whose cultural and religious heritage is "syncretism"; men who live under Roman authority; men whose personal practices and habits are, shall we say, "wanting?"

Yet underneath this tough assignment is an unspoken conviction: "Look with the eyes of Christ, Titus. See whom God reveals." (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

Titus, probably Luke's younger brother, is "young" by today's standards. He was with Paul in the early controversy about circumcision, so he is not clueless about legalism. His job is to silence many rebellious men who are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.

Families are incubators of faith . . . too many times, misplaced faith! Did you learn anything this past week to remodel your incubator? (1 John 1:10)

About UNSOUND Doctrine . . .
Today, many in the church can state the Gospel, but can we live it? Ever heard the quote, "I can't hear what you are saying, because I am watching what you are doing?" Paul urges that we are sound in doctrine and sound in faith.

If American Christians were as serious about our practice of faith as we were our principles of faith, would abortion be the problem it is? Would addiction, divorce and debt have such a hold on the church?

Was the Lord's warning only for first century Palestine? False teachers will do impressive things, the Lord warns. Check out their fruit! Spiritual fruit cannot be cloned. (Galatians 5:20-22)

Make a connection between words and deeds. Often they claim to be Christ and ask men to do more than is possible or profitable.

Was Paul's warning at Ephesus about false teachers of unsound doctrine applicable to our elders?
In Acts 20:17-36 Paul's concern for the church at Ephesus abounds.
Maybe the elders might not remember Paul's example; they might not be able to spot the savage "wolves."
Paul may have sensed those among that band of elders who were capable of speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them? (Acts 20:29)
So he "shared" his concerns. These were scary times! Maybe Paul doubted their courage to solemnly testify to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe he feared they would "sleep" as the disciples slept on the night Christ was betrayed?
Paul knew the temptations for false gain (20:33) Did Paul suspect some of the elders were lazy or stingy? (20:35)

We need examples of victorious, God-dependent Christian living. Christ is one and Paul did his best: he did not shrink from preaching the whole purpose of God; he didn't covet another's gold or silver; he worked with his own hands; he taught them from the Lord's lips, "It is more blessed to give than to receive"; he didn't freak – he prayed.
Whatever the apostle suspected, feared, or KNEW, Paul knelt down and prayed with them. What a wonderful pattern for us to pray for our leaders! "O God, make these men alert and brave for themselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."
When was the last time you knelt down and prayed for your church leadership?

Idols can look like religious practices, like the those of the circumcision group, a group of folks who had a rule for every practice! Their sanctimony even got to Peter when they upset the early church. Paul bravely stood up to them; Titus was the reason! "They did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain."
Am I so radical with my freedom in Christ? Is that how I use my freedom in Christ, so that the truth of the gospel might remain? O God may those who rule Your church have minds and consciences undefiled and pure!

Paul is not just jealously guarding his privileges. No waffling here, the offense is serious! Elders must not just know the Word, but live the word. They must "live" sound doctrine if they had any hope of refuting error! Pray that your leaders have the zeal and grace to stand for the TRUTH.

He must articulate the reasons, live by example and encourage others to imitate him as he imitates JESUS CHRIST. Any other actions deny God.

What is the church member's responsibility in dealing with false teachers?
1. Put your thinking cap on and your Bible OPEN! From 1 John 4:3-4: TEST the spirits to see if Christ is in the center. LIVE as if I believe Christ.
2. Stay OUT of unsafe throne rooms: Flee idolatry! (1 Corinthians 10:14)
3. Do not allow false prophets to speak among you. (Jeremiah 28:8, 2 Peter 2:1)
4. CHOOSE! Ps 119:30 -- I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Thine ordinances {before me.}
5. Pray for your leaders to have courage and grace. (1 Tim 5:20-21)
"It is better to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than for one to listen to the song of fools." (Eccl. 7:5) From Luke 17:3: "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him." 2 Tim 4:2: "preach the word; be ready in season {and} out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."


May I add

Posted by Joanne on Sunday, 18 July 1999 at 2:17 am , in response to HOMEWORK:Titus 1:10-16 , posted by BWSmith on Friday, 9 July 1999 at 3:41 pm

something I learned loooong time ago? To recognize the counterfeit, you must know what the *real* looks like. How else will we know the false from the true, if we don't cling to God's Word? How will we know if we are led or misled? How will we know divination from revelation?


HOMEWORK!TITUS 2:1-10 PRACTICING GODLINESS

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 16 July 1999 at 7:41 pm

Paul has outlined Titus' work on Crete, and now moves ahead, encouraging him as a pastor to the Christians on Crete. Paul describes what must be taught to various groups. Verses 1 through 10 certainly contain requirements for godliness, but these verses are much more than a list of do's and don'ts. As you work through these questions, ask yourself what is Paul talking about and why is he saying it here. Do any of these "rules" make sense to you as a Christian 2000 years later?

1. Briefly reviewing chapter 1, why do you think Paul counseled Titus as he did in 2:1?

2 Remembering the purpose of this letter, what seems to be the point of 2:1-10, in the context of the rest of the letter?


3. List the qualities each of these groups of people should have. Please refer to a dictionary if you need to explain what each quality means.

Older men (2:2)


Older women (2:3)


Younger women (2:4-5)


Younger men (2:6)


Slaves (9-10)

4. To learn more about self-control, study the following passages:
l Peter 4:7, 5:8


Galatians 5:13-24


Romans 8:5-9;12-13

Why is self-control important?


Explain how a person obtains self-control?

* Assess your own level of self-control. Do any desires (for possessions, influence, approval, etc.) weaken your self-control, keeping you from listening to God's will?



Is there anything you or God might do to strengthen your self-control? FYI, jot down your thoughts.

5. Read Colossians 1:9-14, one of Paul's great prayers, and review Titus 2:1 and 2. How do you think "sound" faith, love, and endurance (2) are related to "sound" doctrine (l)?


6. The Greek word for "reverent" (2:3) means the state of mind of a holy person. What does this word mean to you? How is the word used in several passages of Scripture? (Passages of your choosing to define the meaning.)


7. Verses 3 and 4 of chapter 2 are connected by the word "then." How does verse 4 upon verse 3?

Paul told Titus to do good for a similar reason in 2:7. Why is a leader's or teacher's example so important?
How can you apply 2:3-5 to your situation?


To your role in the church?


8. Do you think verses 9-10 can be applied to modern employees who work for wages? If you think they can, give one example of how. If not, why not?

9. The list of expectations like the one in 2:1-10 can be intimidating. Why does Paul set such high standards?

At the end of verses 5, 8, and 10 are reasons for the qualities Paul desired for the Cretan church (and us). List these three reasons below and be able to explain why each is important.
2:5 ... so that:


2:8 ... so that:


2:10 ... so that:


10. Do any one of the reasons for Paul's list of expectations especially motivate you?


Why do you find it motivating? What is it motivating you to do?


11. Reread 2:7-8. How can you demonstrate "integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech" (NASB) in the ways you influence others' lives?

12. What currently seems most important to you of all you have learned from this passage?

questions based on Nav Press Study



Decorating on God's Budget:TI 2:1-10 (long)

Posted by BWSMith on Sunday, 25 July 1999 at 2:34 pm , in response to HOMEWORK!TITUS 2:1-10 PRACTICING GODLINESS, posted by BWSmith on Friday, 16 July 1999 at 7:41 pm

Since the first caves, men and women have decorated their living spaces. We have always wanted to adorn the spaces we occupy. Now, decorating can be either a delight or a drag depending on many factors: our natural inclinations, the size of our bank accounts, the availability of accessories. However, nobody, except maybe Oscar the Grouch, thinks that clutter or confusion contributes to the ambience of a room or home. So, when we decorate our living spaces most of us are cautious about choosing and arranging what we will live with.
Paul wanted Titus to be cautious as he chose the living adornments in the Cretan churches. Filling the churches on Crete must not be a function of talent, money or style; growing healthy churches must be a function of developing faithful imitators of Jesus Christ
Paul outlined Titus' work on Crete, and moved ahead, encouraging him how to minister to the Christians on Crete. Paul described what must be taught to various groups, and then he described the opposition in Titus 1. Now he specifies the defense in Titus 2:1-10.
Verses one through 10 of Titus 2 expound what living stones look like. A church "decorated" with these folks would be a welcoming place, indeed. These verses are the requirements for godliness, but they are much more than a list of do's and don'ts. These "decorating rules" make sense 2000 years! Plus: They have been bought and paid for by the Lord himself. (2 Peter 2:5)
Paul has been blunt about the opposition Titus faced: "Your opposition's actions deny God! Whatever they profess, they are unfit for any good deed." He is equally blunt about Titus' assignment: "You teach things that are fitting for sound doctrine, Titus!" Today, Christians may stumble because of the outrageousness of our opposition. Our doctrine must not be decorated only with rebuttals to unrighteousness. We must teach what is fitting for sound doctrine.
The living stones don't come pre-groomed; they must be taught. We must pray that the living stones who lead and who follow in our churches will look like Paul's description. (Titus 2:2-10)
Decorating with "antiques."
1. Older men must be taught to be
• Temperate. A temperate man is one who speaks and acts with prudence.
• Dignified. A dignified man is one who is worthy of respect; he has a track record of Christ-honoring, self-obscuring actions.
• Sensible. A sensible man keeps his head when all around him are losing theirs. He is prudent, levelheaded, and reasonable. A sensible man is rational, judicious, and politic. He thinks before he speaks and when he speaks his words are thoughtful, sober, logical, down-to-earth, realistic, plausible, and credible. And a sensible man is sense what is going on around him. Men may not be naturally "intuitive." Through sound teaching and prayer, though, our older men can develop these traits because Christ is increasing in the older man's life, and he is decreasing!
• Sound in faith, love, perseverance. (Hupomone) Men must be taught to have healthy faith, supported and fed by the word of God. They must love those in their care as Christ loved the Church, and they must preserve because they are filled with God's Holy Spirit, not their own determination to succeed.
Wow! Is that how I prayed for my husband this morning? Is that how I prayed for my pastors and church leaders? How different would my nation be if I prayed that the men who govern would be teachable that they would be taught to be temperate, dignified, sensible and sound in faith and love and perseverance?

• Older women (2:3) likewise must be taught to be living stones that accentuate the Gospel with their conduct.
• Older women must be taught to be reverent in their behavior.

It is not what we say, but what we do, ladies, and the spirit with which we do it. "Reverence" is not high on the list of those who want to shatter the glass ceiling, is it? So, what is it that Titus must teach and we still need to learn? And how must we teach our own daughters and our spiritual daughters?

A reverent woman bends her knees before she bemoans her circumstances. One woman, a recent widow, asks God to show her the fears, so that she might confess and repent and trust God. A reverent woman serves God and others before she serves herself; she folds her hands in prayer before she opens her mouth. Therefore, a reverent woman is not a malicious gossip. Because she fears God with awe, she does not deaden her senses.

Because Christ dwells in her, a reverent woman teaches what is good through her actions so she may encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, {to be} sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. (2:4-5) Teaching by example is the best course.

• How do we love our husbands? Don't denigrate them with careless words; remember your first passion for them; serve them as we would serve Jesus Christ.
• How do we love our children? Never denigrate them with careless comments. Never take out our frustrations on them. Serve the little ones in our care as we would serve Jesus.
• How do we become pure and sensible? Assess what we are pouring into our minds and bodies! (2 Timothy 3:6)
• How do we become workers at home? (Understand, please that the sense of the word workers is "guard.") As carefully as we assess what goes into our minds and bodies, we must analyze how we spend our time. What are we doing with the 24 hours a day that God gives us? Are our actions "guarding" what God entrusts to us, or are we grabbing what we want?
• How will we become subject to our own husbands? Look to the Lord and remember that HE permitted your marriage. God will enable you to see your husband with His eyes. God will give you a heart of compassion for your spouse who is not quite up to your expectations. (Maybe YOU are disappointing God in the ways your husband is disappointing you?)

Oh yes. And when a young woman approaches you with a problem, pray before you begin to listen. Use the words of Scripture, say, Colossians 1:9-14 and plug her name into the prayer.
3. Younger men (2:6) must be urged to be sensible . . . (Watch the older men!) Remember all the synonyms for "sensible" up above? Pray that the younger men, whether you sons or your pastors will be sensible. If young men are sensible, Christ will increase and their passions will decrease.

Paul goes back to Titus with a passionate exhortation: ". . . in all things show yourself to be an
example of good deeds, {with} purity in doctrine, dignified, sound {in} speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us."

If your son is wandering away from the Shepherd, remember: PRAY! Pray that God will so stir his heart that he will show himself an example of good deeds; that your son will so hunger after Christ, that his purity in doctrine will shine! Don't let foolish rebellion keep you off your knees, pleading with God to build in your son a man worthy of respect; a man whose words are healthy!
Moms know the danger: an enemy is on the loose, seeking to devour or denigrate our sons. Therefore it is a good use of our time to ask God to deal with the hearts of our sons so that "the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about them."

4. Slaves (9-10)
This passage we can skip, because slavery is outlawed. Doesn't apply to us, right? WRONG!
If you work for another person, whether it is your family or an employer, you should reread this passage. If you are training children to take their place in the economy, you must teach them this command. Yes, I said command; Paul does not "suggest" an attitude adjustment: "Be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect."

The Cretans by reputation were the opposites of what Paul commanded. Who could do this? No one! No one except Jesus Christ, who was Paul's model. Paul cuts no slack here, and he understood the difficulty of work; he was a tentmaker.

The verses 2:9-10 can be applied to modern employees who work for wages. How would the productivity of the United States economy change if our workers would imitate Cretan slaves?
What if American workers complied with their bosses, instead of complaining?

Christian wage-earners could set an example based on Romans 12:3 "For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith . . . " and Phil 2:3-4: "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not {merely} look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

Christian workers must quit on-the-job pilfering, from pocketing pencils to taking routinely long lunch breaks. Christians should show up early and stay late; we should work as if we expected Jesus Christ to stroll by, inspecting our detail, whether it's the laundry or an piecework!

Boy! That's not my attitude five days out of six! If mama ain't happy, too often, mama makes her loved ones, her co-laborers for Christ, unhappy!

Why is this important? Showing all good faith, which manifests itself as a submissive, cooperative, honest worker, adorns the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. This is not adding to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Titus' assignment was to exhort the Cretans, whose reputation for carnality was well-known": Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." (Titus 1:12) Does this cast a new light on your assignment to model and to teach submission to authority?
If you are struggling with self-control, it will be impossible to teach it. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Go to God for what you need. The references on the theme of self-control are the basis of HOW the Cretans are supposed to live, of how we are to live. (1 Pet 4:7; 1 Pet 5:8; Gal 5:13-24; Rom. 8:5-9, 12-13) Self-control is the core of obedience to God. It is a gift from God that is mine for appropriation.

We cannot please God in the flesh; self-control is foundational to prayer! When our prayer life seems on hold, it might be because we are insisting on our way, no that God's will is s done. We have an enemy who prowls around. Have I mentioned that before?

Use Colossians 1:9-14 to pray for what you need and what your loved ones need, too! Pray for an interdependence of faith and intellect and actions. What we know and believe – being filled with the knowledge of God's will gives us strength to keep going. What you believe leads to in how you live. How you live shapes what you believe.

Back to a point in Titus 2:5
The Greek word for "reverent" (2:3) means the state of mind of a holy person. Here are some passages that Navigators (authors of the study) suggested:
• Eccl. 3:14; 8:12
• Hosea 10:2-4
• Mal 4:2-3
• Deut. 4:10; 13:4; 14:23; 17:19-20
• Heb 5:7
• 1 Pet 1:17-19 - And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay {upon earth} knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, {the blood} of Christ.

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears her God is greatly to be praised! Older women set a tone that resonates in the actions of younger women. Actions are connected to character traits. We teach what we believe is important by our actions, no matter what we say is important. I transmit (telegraph) what I believe by my actions.

Why is a leader's or teacher's example so important? Just like the older women, Titus' actions will show the power behind his words. Don't simply tell the Cretans how to b a Christian, BE a Christ-submitted example.

Now, the most IMPORTANT dimension of this study: HOW does 2:3-5 apply to you? These Instructions are for *every* woman's situation, no matter your age, who is walking with the Savior. No Christian women, whether 10 or 65, should engage in hateful natter, or indulge their passions. And every woman who knows the Savior has an inescapable teaching job!

Why does Paul set such high standards? At the end of verses 5, 8, and 10 are reasons for the qualities Paul desired for the Cretan church (and us). List these three reasons below and be able to explain why each is important.
2:5 ... so that: the word of God may not be dishonored
2:8 ... so that: the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
2:10 ... so that: we may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
We are Christ's AMBASSADORS; we adorn the Gospel! Who would put tacky accessories on an expensive outfit? My flesh-bound behavior dishonors God; gives the enemy ammunition, and distracts from sound doctrine. But don't despair over failure, get busy!

• SPEAK: Connect my words to what I believe. DO I believe God? Then why am I angry, bitter, frustrated? Ps 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
• PRAY: for my husband, my son; for my pastors and elders, deacons, that they are temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love and perseverance.
• PRAY that I am, my daughter is, that you are -- women are reverent in our behavior. Do we fear God? Act like it! Close my mouth lest I poison the air others must breathe. Set me free from the passions of my flesh. Make me a student so I can teach, encourage and exhort other women to sensible behavior.
©BWSMITH 1999


on the "love their husbands" part...

Posted by Valerie on Wednesday, 28 July 1999 at 3:26 am , in response to HOMEWORK!TITUS 2:1-10 PRACTICING GODLINESS, posted by BWSmith on Friday, 16 July 1999 at 7:41 pm

I admit I have not been involved in doing Barbara's study on my own, but do read her comments when able. (Always like them and learn something! =D)

Since I love the passage on the older women teaching the younger, I did want jump in a bit for those that may never have noticed the difference in the word "love" that Paul uses here. So often as Christians we think that love means "agape" love, and we are to agape one another as brothers and sisters. But the word Paul used in "teach them to love their husbands" is "philandros". Phileo, the root, means friend; andros, meaning wife.

I like how my Zodhiates word dictionary describes this. While not quoting, the picture he gives of the difference between agape and phileo is this. Agape love is not always perceived by the receiver as being "loved", but the giver of that love knows it is acting out of love towards the other. How accurate for us in our relationship to God. We do not always perceive and understand His love, yet He knows it to be so. He "knows what is best for us" and out of love, does accordingly. Agape love is not an emotional love, but a decided love that will not be swayed.

Phileo love is an affectionate and fond love. It displays itself in ways that the receiver clearly understands as acts of love. We are not supposed to love our husbands in the way we believe it is best for them, but we are to love our husbands in ways that they will clearly feel loved. Friends know they are loved. I must honestly admit I am oftened much more aware of not harming my best girlfriends with my words than I am my husband. But I have gotten, by God's grace, so much better.

When I think on this, I find that often the ways I choose to show love to my husband are the ways *I* would like to be loved. While my dh might think they are nice, it does not necessarily show him he is the object of my affection. Affection, by the way, means to show favor to, or to be strongly inclined in favor of someone; a settled good will, or zealous attachment. (I like that last one.)

This means that I must, if I am to "philandros" my husband, know what makes him know he is loved. Manipulating him "for his own good whether he knows it or not" definately does not fit in here. I must find out his needs and do the best I can to meet them. God has designed men to have needs that will be met through their wives. Yup, they need us! But, we must learn to trust God with those areas we are so tempted to want to change in him. We must learn to rest in Him and love him as we are told. God does not need US to change our husbands, but if we will love him as God instructs us, He will USE us to draw our husbands closer to Himself.

All of this takes alot of trust. (Especially when that submission part is added in.) But when we trust God and obey, we get His peace and His joy, even in the midst of tribulation. Don't we all need that these days? I know that when my priorities come first eventually I get all out whack. (I'm reminded of Kate's comments here. When Kevin comes home and she's overwhelmed, he'll go over their "priorities" with her, and find where it got off track. "Their" priorities, because I know Kate has made Kevin's priorities her own.) This is where love is shown in word and deed. Words should always be kind. And those deeds. That's where we DO what our husbands would like to see done. It's not the same for all, and may be different than what we may think - asking sure helps! (Kate's questionaire would be a good place to start.)

I also believe, that the more we learn to trust God, and grow in a genuine affection towards our husband, as imperfect as he may be, we open ourselves up to God so that He may meet our needs. This may sound funny, but I don't even really know what my needs are. I find my husband's in there. He needs that friendly love, an affectionate wife and we are also told to see to it that we respect him. So he needs admiration, appreciation and a reverence due from the position he occupies as given by God. But my needs...men are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church. That's that agape love. I need unconditional love. I need a love that's steady and unwavering and looks out for my best interests. I need Christ's love, and since my dh might not be able to do that real well yet, it means it must come from Jesus. Then, because I know I am truly and perfectly loved by Him, I do not come to my husband needy for what he may not be able to satisfy. His ways of showing love to me are a blessing and not inadequate. I do not "need" more from him beyond what he can give.

By trusting and obeying God, and phileoing my husband, I find I am a fulfilled woman! Now, if only I could not forget all this as often as I do. Yet I know I get better at it a step at a time, because He who has begun a good work in me will perfect it till the day of Christ Jesus.

Hmmm, didn't know I would go on like this when I started. I needed to be reminded, again, I know. Then there's submission .... and the other items in the Titus 2:3-5 passage ... and how about the last line that the older women are to be teaching the younger women these things "that the Word of God will not be blasphemed." That is so serious!

Someone else? =D
Love, Valerie


May I suggest "homework" on the above?

Posted by Valerie on Wednesday, 28 July 1999 at 3:37 am , in response to on the "love their husbands" part..., posted by Valerie on Wednesday, 28 July 1999 at 3:26 am

Here are some suggestions.

Thank him for working each day.
Thank him for the things he does for the family, or around the home.

Don't criticize him. (Barbara mentioned this one! =D)

Do the two things he's been asking you to do that you have not done. It might be mending those shorts that he's been unable to wear, or moving rocks out of the garden - doesn't matter whose job you *think* it should be ... show him in word and deed that he is your priority, and that you are his helpmate!

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you more ideas!


Thanks for the encouraging words.

Posted by Valerie on Thursday, 29 July 1999 at 2:06 am , in response to HOMEWORK!TITUS 2:1-10 PRACTICING GODLINESS, posted by BWSmith on Friday, 16 July 1999 at 7:41 pm

Re-reading it now, I see I could have been clearer, that's what I get for not taking the time to proof.

I was thinking for discussion...

What are some reasons why women struggle in this area?
What are some of the ways you all see where the Word of God has been blasphemed by the lack of these teachings of late?


Reasons we struggle?

Posted by BWSmith on Thursday, 29 July 1999 at 9:27 am , in response to Thanks for the encouraging words., posted by Valerie on Thursday, 29 July 1999 at 2:06 am

In the way you challeneged us: doing something for our husbands that show they are our #1 priority. So much *stuff* can crowd our our spouses' rightful claim on our affections and actions!
Plus, we can conveniently invent reasonable excuses to avoid doing what we *know* we should out of reverence for Jesus Christ:
1. I am tired.
2. He doesn't meet my needs, why should I meet his?
3. Look what I have to put up with!
4. No one else around the house has a good attitude, why should I?
By pleasing our spouses, we are pleasing JEsus Christ, honoring HIM and ministering to the closest human being we know: our husbands.
BTW, today we have been married for 27 years, by God's grace, and I pray for HIS glory.
I praise God for Doug, whose unfailing patience, kindness and love is an ever-present reminder of Christ's love for me.
What do I see becasue of the lack of teachings?
Well -- I see Christians failing to live out their confessions of faith. Sometimes they are very prominent, too.

bws


Homework:Titus 2:11-15

Posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 25 July 1999 at 2:43 pm

Titus 2:11-15: The Gospel Message and Your Kitchen Sink
(Questions based upon NIV Serendipity Bible questions and the Precept Bible)

Read through Titus a couple of times. How has you understanding of these 46 verses changed?


Read 2:11-15.
1. What does salvation mean for our behavior in the "present age" (v.12)?




2. What does salvation mean to you? Can you describe how your outlook changed after you understood the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?




3. What conflicts do verse 12 imply that Christians will face?



4. What struggles are you coming to grips with, applying God's grace to your personal passions?



5. How does this new lifestyle, "saying no to ungodliness," relate to Jesus' death (v. 14)?



To His return (v. 13)?

6. Who have been the people who taught you in practical ways what it means to be a Christian?


7. How have these mentors helped you?



8. Whom could you be helping now?

9. What did you learn from disappointments with other Christians that you that you can help younger Christians avoid?



10. What will you do this week to "make the teaching of God our Savior" (v. 10) more attractive to your family? (Take the time to be specific, please!)


Among your friends?


At work or church?



11. Titus was never alone in his responsibilities to the Cretans: God had revealed His grace to all men, Paul said. Titus did not have to invent a message to the church, did he? God teaches! Nor did his assignment require him to invent reasons, for Christ will return to those for whom He died.

Write out Titus 2:11-15 as a prayer for what is in your dishpan.



How have these four verses changed your point of view about those with whom you live or work or worship?


Comments Upon Titus 2:11-15 (long)

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 30 July 1999 at 5:00 pm , in response to Homework:Titus 2:11-15, posted by BWSmith on Sunday, 25 July 1999 at 2:43 pm

Comments upon Titus 2:11-15
Applying the Gospel Message to Your Kitchen Sink
(Questions based upon NIV Serendipity Bible questions and the Precept Bible)

In forty-six verses Paul sweeps through doctrine and church discipline, devotion and duty. This isn't just a set of instructions for others; it is written to me! My calling is from God to teach what is fitting with sound doctrine by being an example of a Holy-Spirit controlled Christian whose are firmly fixed on heaven, hands ready for the task, and whose feet are planted equally as firmly on the path upon which God leads. So then *I* will adorn the teaching of God our Savior attractive.
Even I live among a bunch of "Cretans" I don't have to live like them! The choice about how to do the dishes, though is mine.
Digging into just four verses, Titus 2:11-15. what words JUMPED off the page? Flo Wolfe said this is how we can see the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12) Paul's passion, *this is why we labor, Titus, jumped out at me. Again the urgency and concern that Paul had for these folks, whose spiritual act was far from together, shame me. Some of us are quicker to criticize those whose doctrine is sloppy or missing, then we are to "preach the word; be ready in season {and} out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Tim 4:2)

What does salvation mean for our behavior in the "present age" (v.12)?
Salvation is deliverance from the power and effects of sin; it is also the agent or means that effects salvation. It means liberation from ignorance or illusion, preservation from destruction or failure and deliverance from danger or difficulty. Christians are rescued from our justly deserved punishment to be instruments of righteousness. Salvation is a once for all-time event for each believer, yet it is an ongoing mercy in the lives of all who serve Jesus Christ.
Christ is *daily* in the business of salvation; Christ's sacrifice is effective "today."
Deut. 4:39: "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other."
Deut. 6:24: "So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as {it is} today."
Heb 4:7: He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."
So, the GOSPEL is GOOD NEWS! Can those I love and serve, hear my daily excitement about what Jesus has done for me?

What does salvation mean to you?
The GRACE of God, salvation, manifested in Christians among mankind is "the means of conveying and working grace in the hearts of believers . . . now grace is obliging and constraining to goodness . . . The love of Christ constrains us not to live to self, but to him (2 Cor. 5:14-15); without this effect, grace is received in vain." (Matthew Henry) Choosing my self over Christ eviscerates the Gospel message.
Christ, who embodied and obeyed the Law, perfectly has come, showing all men how to think and do. "The doctrine of grace and salvation by the gospel is for all ranks and conditions of men (slaves and servants, as well as masters), therefore engaging and encouraging all to receive and believe it, and walk suitably to it, adorning it in all things." (MH)
Titus' assignment was to teach this TRUTH to generations of people who pleased themselves before others. He must teach by doing, teach by words the salvation that rescues sinners from death and hell and "brings to faith, and so to life, the life of holiness now and of happiness hereafter." This certainly tells me how to pray for our Sunday School teachers and pastors!
My master is a living, breathing PERSON, not words carved in stone. He has eyes and ears and sensibilities that my wantonness can offend. The Lord hates my sins and He hates the consequences of my sin. I must stop sinning. (Read 1 John.) *Now* I can give myself to God, for Christ has expunged my justly due punishment, enabling me to use my body for righteousness. By God's grace, sin shall not be master over [me], for I serve the better master: GRACE not the law! (Rom. 6:12-14)
This means whether I am doing the dishes, cleaning the basement or having a lovely dinner, I must reflect Jesus Christ. "This gospel revelation is to teach, and not by way of information and instruction only, as a schoolmaster does his scholars, but by way of precept and command, as a sovereign who gives laws to his subjects." (From Matthew Henry's Commentary)
WHAT can I not do or be, if the grace of God is available to me?

What conflicts do verse 12 imply that Christians will face?
"instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, . . . "
A. God's grace INSTRUCTS; we may choose not to learn.
B. God's grace teaches how to deny ungodliness; we may choose to skip class, preferring our private passions.
C. God's grace explains how to resist worldly desires; we may choose to indulge what our peers crave.
D. God's grace INSTRUCTS sensible, righteous and godly living; we can sleep through the lessons!
WHAT can I not do or be, if the grace of God is available to me? Look at 2 Peter 1:2-9. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us *everything pertaining to life and godliness,* through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (Emphasis added!) Now bear with me on this: Willful pursuit of my passions means I am calling God a liar!
*God has promised* that we might become partakers of {the} divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. When I sin, it is not for lack of power to overcome; it my refusal to appropriate what God SAID He would supply. Ouch.
I resist the orderly progression of faith, diligence, moral excellence, knowledge; self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, I will be useless and unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sounds like a fleshy Cretan to me!
Sounds like a gal who needs an eye exam.
For by ignoring God's promised provision I am blind, short-sighted and forgetful of Christ's great purification!

What struggles are you coming to grips with, applying God's grace to your personal passions?
When I review my struggles, I don't have any less a need of Titus' instruction and example than the Cretans did – nor do I have anymore. My anguish is the very same as those in the first century Church.
God does not condemn our struggles to become like His Son. If you are struggling to yield to God that which is rightfully His, He is wrestling with you and for you. Don't give up and do not give in -- for your sake and the sake of those you serve!

"Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come {with} vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you." (Isa 35:3-4)

"But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one." (II Th 3:3)

"Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that {the limb} which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." (Heb 12:12-14)

>>>>>What is our hope? (Titus 2:13)
The gospel teaches us not only how to believe and act but to hope well, expecting another, better world. The gospel teaches us to live well here, not, however, as our final state, but with an eye chiefly to a future. One day we will see Jesus: "The design of the gospel is to stir up all to a good life by this blessed hope . . . Looking and hastening, that is, expecting and diligently preparing for it." (MH)
One day we will be where he is, beholding his glory. (Jn. 17:24) We sometimes skip over the joy of giving three dimensions to an intangible hope. Fearing that we will become so heavenly-minded, we are no earthly good. But our hope of heaven must change how we act today. Does your "end" justify your means?

How does this new lifestyle, "saying no to ungodliness," relate to Jesus' death (v. 14)?
Jesus came not to the healthy, wealthy and wise; but the sick, needy and foolish. It was my need that brought into being His gift.
How can I continue in the behaviors that cost Him so dearly?
Easy!
It "feels"more familiar to indulge myself than to wait for God to guide my steps unto righteousness. His goal is redemption from my lawlessness and purification of my soul so that I might be zealous for good deeds. He is fitting me for usefulness, not personal peace and affluence.

How does this new lifestyle, "saying no to ungodliness," relate to His return (v. 13)?
One day, maybe today, we will look into the Lord Jesus' eyes. We shall behold Him, face-to-face. If I were caught up to heaven last week when I stomping around the yard, convinced I had been stuck with everyone else's dirty work, would I like Jesus to hear my words?

Did you think about whose loving care in Christ helped you to grow up? Will you pass along what you were given? How can you turn your disappointments to another's gain?

Titus was never alone in his responsibilities to the Cretans: God had revealed His grace to all men, Paul said. Titus did not have to invent a message to the church, did he? God teaches! Nor did his assignment require him to invent reasons, for Christ will return to those for whom He died.

A Prayer for My Dishpan Duties:
Ah the wonder of the lavish gift of Christ's salvation that always bubbles and sparkles in my dishpan of duties and dilemmas! Your gift is more remarkable than any other affliction I suffer, and any dirty "plate" I must clean. I have no more plates than Titus, Lord, and a lot more soap!
Your salvation teaches me, personally, Lord to say NO! to angry outbursts; to deny my all-consuming flesh. Oh God, make me teachable. Teach me, Lord to live a wholesome, purposeful life that brings glory to you as I fill the little space you grant me in your Kingdom.
You didn't have to make a place for me. Thank you for the wideness in Your mercy that made room at Your Table for me.
When the greasy details of my life eat up the bubbles in my dishpan, train me to turn my eyes ever to Christ, my blessed hope. Open my eyes to see HIS scars, Help me to wait expectantly for His Second Coming. Keep me on-task, Lord. Let me live today as if today He might come. Show me how to cooperate with You to finish the chores, and give me the heart to continue cooperating with You. My submission to You makes my responsibilities so much easier Lord. May those whom I serve for Your sake never disregard You! (Titus 2:11-15)

How have these four verses changed your point of view about those with whom you live or work or worship?
My kitchen sink can get lonely; my chores around the house and yard, and in the business never seem to end. Father, neither do the trials of those I love. Give me a heart to see my husband's needs before I lament my deficits. Give me the compassion and empathy to see my children's struggles to obey You, as I similarly fail to obey You. Give me patience and respect for our church leaders. May I take my mission to pray for those in authority more seriously then my proclivity to nit-pick!
And O Father, let my heart break about the things in this world that break Your precious heart!

©BWSmith 1999


Bible Study: Titus -- Conclusion

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 30 July 1999 at 5:04 pm

(Some questions based upon the NIV Serendipity Bible)

Read Paul's letter to Titus.
Review Chapter 3

1. In verses 1, 8, and 14, why do you suppose Paul stresses doing good?

2. How do Paul's purposes for doing good square with your service goals?


3. What is it about human nature that makes Paul's in verse three necessary?

What is the difference in Paul's reminder and dredging up the past?

4. What is the problem that Paul wants Titus to solve in 3:9-11? How does this relate to Paul's other teaching on the matter? (See 2 Timothy 2:25-26; 3:5)

5. Describe the toughest assignment God has asked you do for the church of Jesus Christ?

Why was it hard?

How did you complete the job?

6. How has this study helped you define what you will teach your children?

7. How do Paul's words to Titus help you to make the most of your age and stage in life?


8. What did you learn from what Titus should teach women that refines your definition of personal contentment?

9. How has studying Paul's letter changed your prayer life?


10. If you are a member of a church, what did you learn about church leadership that will strengthen your participation in the church?

11. How does remembering Titus' assignment changed your point of view about reaching and serving your neighbors and your church?

12. What ammunition did you garner from these 46 verses to take aim at the besetting sins in your life that rob you of your joy and hobble your walk with Christ?


Yooo-hooooo

Posted by BWSmith on Friday, 6 August 1999 at 3:01 pm

Closing Comments
These forty-six verses are a powerful and succinct summation of Christian doctrine and its emphasis on holy living. Titus was organizing and shepherding new believers on Crete. Paul's letter is both an authorization, and encouragement.
Paul probably was writing this letter from Corinth about 63 AD. He was not asking Titus to do anything more than he, Paul, was doing. He outlines what the duties of church leaders and what church members are to do. The hallmark of the elders' sound doctrine must be their lives: they must live what they preach. Similarly, their flock, the members of the Cretan church must forsake their former reputations. They must do good works and denounce heresies. Church leaders must preserve God's Truth, and members of Christ's church must use His truth to live their lives.
Paul outlines Christian leadership in the church, the requirements for elders, in chapter 1. Those of us who do not govern can see the important duty that is ours from Paul's requirements. We must pray for those who rule. Use God's words and ask Him to form under shepherds that please Him.
In Chapter 2, Paul sketches what Christians do, and why. He does not impose a burden of conduct that Christ will not help His own bear. Christ's flock will adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Holy-Spirit controlled thoughts, words and deeds.
As he concludes in Chapter 3, Paul limns Christian conduct generally: Obey the government and its officers; be ready for any honest work, remember from whence we came, and be careful to do good. Stay out of arguments about unanswerable questions and controversial theological ideas; keep out of arguments about obedience to Jewish law. Warn a factious person and avoid those who will not desist. They are sinning and know it! Take care of individuals: Zenas, the lawyer and Apollos. By your example, people will learn to do good to those who need help. (It is not always the apparently down and out who need help!)

Doing GOOD:
Paul stresses to Titus "doing good," because good works are an integral part of a good witness, of being holy, of being productive. "Doing good" does not come as second nature to any of us, but especially in those people who are liars, evil, lazy and gluttons by reputation!
Being ready and careful to do good requires thought, preparation – effort. It means looking out for others: something Cretans were not naturally prone to do. Doing good means meeting others' needs; not waiting for others to do what we could or should. It meant the Cretan Christians would look different from those around them.
How would our nation change today if our churches taught with Paul's urgency? Christians keep the same paces as unbelievers; we get just as exhausted. What if we deliberately made a point to look different from our culture – not by our outward appearances, but with our deeds?
Be ready, for every good deed, be careful, and engage in every good deed: Have some extra cash, food or an extra pair of shoes to share. Don't let your schedule get so crazy that you can't spend a few minutes serving. Keep your car in good repair, so you can take someone to the doctor. Make some time to pray for those on the "In-touch" sheet.
I am too often caught up in the grind to do good, or I try to do so much, nothing gets done well. Or, I do not pray to see if this is the task God wants me to do, and again, nothing gets done well. What is worse, however, is the attitude of self-centeredness that takes over, crippling me from preparation to do good and the will to do it!

Remembering the Past: It Ain't just dredging up the past!
Paul is gently leveling the playing field. ( Titus 3:3) Sometimes even the most devoted Christian worker burns out and forgets whom he or she really is: we are like the thief on the cross, the woman taken in adultery, or the prideful Pharisee.
We need to be reminded repeatedly, but for the kindness of God, we, too, would have spurned His grace that rescued us from our foolishness and disobedience. It is only God's unmerited grace that set us free from the willfulness. Lest Titus forgets, lest we forget, Paul says, "Remember where you came from, folks. Until God enabled you to hear His call, you were quite content to be positively Cretan in all your habits!" Such reminders renew the compassion, strength, humor and skill to keep to the task to which God calls.
When we remember our past, Christians have something useful to do with their past: put it under the Blood. Then, and only then, Christ will show us how He worked our failures for good and His glory. He will teach us how to use our disappointments for good in others' lives.

Specific Problems: (Compare 3:9-11 with 2 Timothy 2:25-26; 3:5)
The mental attitudes influence the actions. People who are continually caught up in "foolish," controversies are not on-duty for Christ. If it matters more to whom one is related, than Whom one serves, we have not advanced the gospel. Strife and disputes about the Law confuse outsiders, and dull their interest in Grace, which is the end of the Law, anyway. (Gal 3:11, 24-25)
When the soul is securely anchored to Christ, HE will lead His own into all Truth about skirt length, the advisability of head coverings or make-up. He will even convict His lambs about His will on the hot cultural topics that divided our culture, like divorce and abortion and homosexuality.
If I am the Lord's bond-servant, dead to myself and alive to Christ, I will not quarrel, I will be kind to all. I will spend my energies refining my teaching abilities, not my pet theories. God, let me teach Truth and let me trust YOU to teach the hearts of those who do me the courtesy of listening. Don't let me confuse conviction and cleverness to score points. Keep me from any passion in my personal convictions that undermines Your purposes in another's walk with You.
If Jesus Christ is changing my life, how do I magnify Him? I will be patient when wronged, . . . Patience is the more eloquent argument always. If called to correct, let me do it with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition. They are not enemies; they need the Lord! If they miss my brilliant arguments, so what? It is more important that my demeanor do nothing to contribute to the devil's snare! In the heat of "debate," let me look with the eyes of compassion and prayer so that "God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will."
These "last days" are difficult times! What Paul warned Timothy about sounds quite contemporary, huh? Ours is an unequivocally self-absorbed age, consumed with getting and keeping money. Its men and women love themselves, their possessions and accomplishments while dismissing God Almighty. Our lost generation rejects the authority that God established, indulges ingratitude, and embraces the unholy. It is contentious and awash with malicious gossips. This generation knows no self-control, approves brutality, and hates good. We come from stock that is treacherous, reckless, and conceited. Our contemporaries love pleasure rather than God; they project a form of godliness, although they deny its power.
Has this attitude infiltrated the Church?
Paul admonished Timothy, ". . . Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
We need wisdom from God Himself in conversations, then, don't we? Speak the truth, and don't get drawn into arguments, but do pray. And avoid those whose fingers continue clutching idols.
Christian women are blessed by the protection of godly men who are charged with leadership. How do we tend the responsibilities God gives us? It is tempting to appropriate the authority God grants men and shirk what we are commanded to do: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored." ( Titus 2:3-5 )

WHAT is God Asking of YOU?
Did you think about the toughest assignment God has asked you do for the church of Jesus Christ? All of the women in the Bible study said it centered on their families, from the young children to aging parents. One saint commented, being "loving" in our own homes is hard; guarding our tongues and tones of voices when we are on our own turf is hard. The battle belongs to the Lord, especially on home ground!

So, did you get any ideas for this coming year's teaching load?
Drilling math facts and history can overwhelm moms to the point we may underestimate the teaching emphasizes that has "eternal" weight. We must teach our children what it means to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. We can teach our sons how to recognize a godly woman as we urge them be sensible. We can encourage our children to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. Finding and equipping leaders, and maintaining order in the church is a prayer concern of all of us. We can use what Paul says are qualifications for leadership as a prayer guide for those in authority over us, and that we would want to look like what we expect godly leaders to be.
"Allie-allie in free!" OK troops – Hide & Seek is now officially over. So, did studying Titus help you make the most of your age and stage in life? What did you learn that refines your definition of personal contentment? Who wants to weigh in with comments about what a study in "sound doctrine" has meant to you this summer?

©BWSmith 1999


Well.....

Posted by Lily on Saturday, 7 August 1999 at 8:36 am , in response to Yooo-hooooo, posted by BWSmith on Friday, 6 August 1999 at 3:01 pm

This really has been a terrific study...I always hesitate writing anything down,because i do not feel i express myself very well.
One of the things that struck me ...was how i was NOT praying for the men in leadership the way i should....there have been things going on..decisions for them to make. I have to pray for them also not just the situation....and continue to pray for them even after. When you brought up praying for the churches that we have left<gasp> We(I) are so quick to speak...I need to be quicker to my knees....
Yes, it has brought ever so clearly that my family is where He wants me...i dont need to go looking for someone to minister to...they are right here under my roof. If I am going about doing my Fathers business...He will send other people in my path ...and I will know He wants me to talk with them or pray with them.I get so caught up in being nusy going...I forget I am busy not going its just a different better type of busy...its doing what my Father wants. It is such an important things to teach and train our children....but my heart need to be pure first...I need to get the thorns that need to come out- out...In order to do this I must be in fellowship with my Father..He is my Teacher.Well, I am going to stop for now.
Blessings to all of you, Have a great week!
Lily


You say well what is very important, &

Posted by BWSmith on Saturday, 7 August 1999 at 9:51 am , in response to Well....., posted by Lily on Saturday, 7 August 1999 at 8:36 am

I appreciate your taking the time to write!
One mother of 4 children said in the study yesterday that doing good is not necessarily a BIG deal; just getting up and offering a seat to someone at church, or a potluck, or on a bus can be the cup of cold water.
Prayer, prayer, prayer before anything I say or do; before any comment of "suggestion" Wow could I have saved myself and others GRIEF!
And we do agree about praying for the leadership. Love in CHrist,
bws