Titus clearly outlined what godly living should look like
The basis is that God’s grace changes the church so the church can be a living example of that grace. We (not various buildings) are God’s church.
My applications from Titus are:
Titus 2:1 – Tell/speak/show/demonstrate to believers to live the kind of life that is fitting [clearly seen as] sound instruction and builds trust and respect for our faith.
Example: displaying through words and actions such profound love and respect that others recognize it as other-worldly and long for it in their own lives
Men: temperate, dignified, sensible, sound (steadfast) in faith, love and perseverance
Women: sensible, pure/reverent behavior focused on family first, respectful of husband, kind, not dishonoring God’s Word in anything
Building up and loving one another through all circumstances by depending on God’s Word as a firm foundation for our decisions and actions. Live an example that will show younger couples and children what godly love looks like.
Respect Employers and Legal Authorities
Do not steal material goods or time from employer. Respect the office even if you cannot respect the person. Look for good things to do and be prepared to be the one who leads doing peaceful and good actions without maligning others. Remember that all have personal pain and gently show consideration for the lives God intended them to have in Christ.
Avoid Controversies and Aimless Disputes
Focus on (memorize and study) God’s truth so you can speak calmly and confidently to encourage others not to submit their emotions to those with ungodly goals.
Dormant faith cannot bear fruit. We must learn to prepare to meet others’ needs and to sow/plant/anticipate God to work through us what is good and profitable for all.
In summary our actions should be an affirmation of our words.
Our words should be a confirmation of our actions.
Both our actions and our words should clearly proclaim our faith.
Faith that is activated through telling and showing is a natural and expected response to the rescue we have experienced through Christ.
Take a look through Titus 2 and 3, putting your name in place of the words you, us and we – and let me know what you find! What does Activating Faith look like in your life?
In these tough times many of us have reduced income for various reasons. As followers of Christ it is our responsibility to properly manage whatever we have been given. Some people think once you know the Lord you are immune to human failings and the lure and deceit of the world to spend, spend, spend. Sorry, but we are STILL human, and God said all things are becoming new. There is hardly anything worse financially, than not knowing what is in the checkbook and fearing to answer the telephone because it might be a creditor.
Many people have found help in evaluating their motives and spending habits with the following questions.
What will help you stand firm against making money mistakes?
Recognize Money Mistakes that “even Christians” make
Disobedience (not taking the responsibility to obey)
We have been greatly influenced by Mary Hunt’s common sense approach to finances, and have been able to help others using her plan and materials.
Specific tools for getting out of financial difficulty can be found in Mary Hunt’s books and website Living Debt Free.
I think we all have them. I certainly have my share –
Things I wish I’d said and done….
Things I wish I hadn’t.
I want to gift you with a comment a writer friend gave me through one of her characters.
In the story, the character’s wife had been unfaithful and unrepentant about it. He was so hurt and angry he stepped away and did not offer her redemption. She was killed in an auto accident shortly after and he regretted what to him felt like a vital missed opportunity.
After years of agonizing about his self-identified “un-Christian” attitude and lack of action, he finally confessed it to a friend.
The friend’s response:
And do you think God was limited by that?
Was God limited in fulfilling that person’s need by the character’s action…by my action…or lack of it?
Whoa. I’d forgotten, just as the character had, that my story was not just my story – it was God’s story. God knows my weaknesses and appreciates my confession and repentance, and then He
forgets my wimping out of opportunities that were given to be a bigger part of a number of stories.
God promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He did not promise those I love that He would do that only through me or only through me and…but exactly what His Word says – God/Jesus said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
One resource says there are 5467 promises, divine, in the Bible. Another resource says there are 3000 promises to which God answers yes. However many there are, none…
Depend on me.
That is not to say God will not use me (or you) in others lives, he will, and I am grateful to get confirmation from time to time that He has given me that privilege.
But it is such a comfort to be reminded that where I have failed, God has prevailed.
He does not need to use people, but He often does. And though I may experience loss for those poor choices, procrastination, fear, or lack of follow through and so on, I can be confident that God’s promises have been, are being, and will be completely fulfilled.
I look forward to the day when I see and hear the rest of many stories, and to thank whomever God used in my place to correct and fulfill what I should have done (or not done).
2Cor. 1:20 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident.
2Cor. 7:1 With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.
Heb. 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful
How has God been faithful to you?
Anger – a punishment we give ourselves, usually for someone else’s mistake.
Anger – whoever makes you angry, or keeps you angry, has control of you – your emotions and your attitude.
Anger – God expects it. He understands we will get angry, but gives us a choice and directions of what to let it do and not do.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
What good can anger possibly do?
Anger can help us identify triggers
Anger can motivate us to do something about whatever makes us angry
Anger can help cope with stress by discharging the tension that built up to that point
Anger can make us face consequences (especially if we are angry at ourselves)
Anger can lead us to call out to God when we realize who or what is controlling us
Anger can be a bargaining tool if it makes the antagonist realize they are being hurtful.
Anger can increase cooperation if the anger is justified and controlled and appropriate
Anger can lead to self-improvement if we improve or change our response to its triggers
Aristotle said: “Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
The Bible says:
James 1: 19-20
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
We all have many stories of the hurt anger has caused but do you have a story of some good that controlled anger has brought about?
I don’t often get to spend time with my friend/daughter-in-law (DIL) Kris, so when she saw a bucket list item in the middle of a 100 mile rummage sale, I was happy to offer to be the designated driver and she the designated navigator.
When I informed my husband, however, he had another idea – a dare, really. He originally thought I said we were going to 100 rummage sales, and I suppose that was possible though even the thought was exhausting. We are, like most people our age, at the stage of downsizing, not hunting for gems at rummage sales. Consequently he challenged me to take 100 items and leave one at each rummage sale, so instead of bringing home 100 things, I’d be getting rid of them!
I accepted the challenge and prepared a box of items (though no where near 100 items). I also prayed that God would guide what I would leave where, and if it was his will that I could encourage or connect with at least one person through this special trip.
I’ve become, as daughters, friends and family have indicated, more and more controlling as the years go by – not that I like to control them, but that I like to be in control. I brought along a paper printout of each city stop on the route, with distances etc. Kris put it away in the car and pulled out her GPS! I had to learn trust real quickly.
We had a great time discussing many things and especially books on the way up. At one point I was sharing the synopsis of a current read and thinking dear DIL might like to read it when I was done. She let me go on for quite a bit (apparently patiently used to my detailed descriptions) and then she said, “That sounds like Sarah’s Key,” which it was. It was fun each night to tell her where I was and to answer her queries about how I felt about different characters and happenings.
The first day was driving, finding the bucket-list-museum to be nice though a bit underwhelming pole barn. We then began the dare, visiting the sales that were still open at dusk in a near-by town. Kris caught me explaining the dare to one lady and challenged me to slip the goodies onto their tables instead, so I began alternating. The next day was almost total rummaging. I’d drive and we’d see a sign with balloons or ribbons and she’d say yes or no and we’d pull in.
At first we were tempted by signs that said huge, then quickly found the seller’s view did not match ours. Even the sign saying biggest, best sale at the high school deluded us. We envisioned the gym filled with tables upon tables of goodies. There were a few tables outside the school and books on blankets in the grass. We were soon laughing when we saw the word HUGE on a sign.
We did browse and contribute to the Feral Friends sale. (they capture, neuter and release Feral cats to reduce population. It was located by one of the numerous historical markers on the edge of a little park and a depot in process of restoration.
Flea markets were pretty big with raw honey, jam, moringa tea, and lots of unidentifiable things but had a few of what we were looking for (golden books, baby clothes for a new great-grandchild and steam punk items) but the barn sales were very dirty. I grew up near a farm and still did not expect things for sale to be coated with dust and grease and to be priced well over what we knew the value to be. Almost every place we left, we next wanted to go wash our hands.
There was an interesting bohemian couple that found Kris’ broad knowledge interesting, so while they continued to chat and try to convince her to buy more of their books, I slipped over to another sale near the car. I’d seen the woman manning the tables go into the house, so it was a perfect opportunity to slip a couple of surprises on her table. As
we were leaving, the woman came out of the house, and began straightening items on the tables. She was bent over the stack of books on one corner (which now had two additional volumes) as we drove off J.
We did find a place to wash our hands and have a meal with “the best sweet potato fries ever” according to my navigator.
Getting tired of the sameness Kris suggested we try a few more and head north. There came a big green sign with that word on it. HUGE. And so, laughing we headed toward the woods, We drove past probably 7 or 8 green signs taunting us or comforting us, however you wanted to take it, that we were on the right road, we would soon get there, to keep on going, and we were almost there till finally at the top of a hill about 6 miles into the woods we saw a house halfway into the little valley. The 100 mile rummage sale had begun on Thursday so it’s likely the slim pickings should have been expected. I had a few things left in the car and felt I should leave a couple of Christian books at this one. I did not bring them with me to sneak them in. We walked through their goods and chatted with the friendly gals. I told them I was going to purchase a blue candle but I had something for them in the car. Kris was done shopping and entertaining the ladies with stories of our adventure, so she went to the car when I did and stayed there while I returned with the books.
As I re-approached their table, I explained the husband-dare, and like others they laughed and thought it was a great idea they might try someday. I handed both books to the gal sitting at the checkout table and she moved the top book to look at the second and gasped then held that book to her chest and exclaimed possessively, “This one’s mine!”. I asked her what that was about and she said she was amazed. A friend’s grandmother had highly recommended that she read that specific book, she said, and she had been wondering how a gal out in the middle of nowhere was going to find that book. Her friend came over and commented on the situation and the gal kept looking at the book and at me and shaking her head. Kris and I had exchanged info about where we live and so she knew it was a God-led coincidence for us to show up and hand her the book she was seeking at her friend’s grandma’s urging. It was obvious from the conversation the grandmother was a believer and wanted to share her faith with the younger woman.
I did not leave my name or info as I sometimes do, but did have in each book a postcard about where we are in the world compared to the sun. They were reading it aloud when I left. I did rather float out to the car in happiness. I love when God answers prayers like that.
A friend visiting today said that a wise person told him that the longer a person walks closely to Christ, the more unexplainable “coincidences” they will experience. He found it true.
I find it true as well.
What was your most recent unexplainable coincidence?
Today I can celebrate my name with new meanings
Do you like your name? My name, Delores, was a happenstance (carved into the door of the house into which my parents moved). And though it was better than my mother’s original plan (Fifi Fern), my name got a lot of teasing because of its meaning.
I don’t know what kid would be happy with a name that meant pain. Especially when your early life seemed to be filled with many kinds of pain. When my husband and I found Christ through reading the Bible, I began to look at my name in new ways:
If only I’d thought through and beyond that first name…
Delores – still means sorrow, but now it brings to mind the Via Dolorosa – the way of sorrows – that Christ walked to the cross.
Let’s repeat that slowly with meaning: for me. For me. For me.
This realization lifted off the specter of feeling doomed and chased by sorrows. I’d gloomed around like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, always expecting the worst. Though my life had many sorrows (some I admittedly caused myself), knowing Christ bore the pain and penalty of all my sins and sorrows lifted my heart greatly. Let’s face it, few are the people who make an effort to hang out with the Eeyores of life. More than an external change – I needed a new focus – away from myself and the symptoms of my despair to the only one who could conquer the cause.
Thinking of both of my names as a whole Delores Faith or Sorrows Faith enlightened me that one comes by way of surviving the other. There is no victory without a battle.
When my heart focus changed my spiritual vision and understanding changed too. I daily discovered that God is with us in our circumstances, and He does not want our past or present circumstances to control our new life. That new life is enduring and has purpose, restoration and protection.
This God-relationship grows as I spend time listening to His Words, focusing in faith as to what He can do, rather than what I cannot.
Have you found yours?
What is the meaning of your name?
As a Christian, my spiritual heritage is rooted in the faith of Israel and God’s chosen people. Consequently, when I read the whole Megilla (the book of Esther) and learned about Purim I wanted to celebrate too. Then I saw Esther 9:27!
After thwarting Haman’s plan to eradicate them, the Jews established a custom for:
Wow. An invitation encouraging us to celebrate together for generations to come, united in these ten teachings from Esther:
Though never directly named in the book of Esther, God is seen is through the existence of over a million Jewish people, including Mordecai and Esther.
Every time I meet a Jewish person I see living proof of God’s faithfulness to His eternal and unbreakable covenant: His chosen people would always survive.
The enemy’s whisper, “Where is your God?” is routed by blessings, guidance, and deliverances – proof of His promise that as He was with Esther, He is and will be with us.
Actions like Xerxes’ emotional banishment of Vashti, though created by the enemy and based on lies, create a platform where God will work. The Megilla tells how Esther became queen, and God worked His great purpose through her. In the middle of such an ego and power-driven situation, it would be easy to fear.
Just as America keeps her eyes on Washington, knowing its edicts can impact and change lives in an instant, so Xerxes’ kingdom must have watched the Persian palace with fear and trembling.
If we, like Esther, calmly and confidently look beyond the circumstances and the lawmakers, we confirm the truth of God’s sovereignty over all principalities and power. Relying on God’s Word provides rescue, peace, and hope.
Mordecai had taken Esther…Esther was taken by Persian authorities to the king’s palace.
Mordecai’s taken translates: brought – nourished.
The palace authorities’ taken means to tie, bind, imprison.
Esther must have felt overwhelmed by the difference. She was captive of a hidden enemy.
With Esther we learn the enemy is identifiable after being in God’s presence on a daily basis. God’s mirror reveals Xerxes’ downfall – making decisions and living by emotion and ego. It also reveals God’s character and desire to take us to safety.
Though captured bodily, Esther’s spirit was not overtaken. Mordecai ordered her to not reveal her nationality or lineage and Esther had the choice of response: to obey sullenly, rebelliously, willingly, and without murmuring or grumbling.
Taught unquestioning obedience for authoritative figures, Esther’s secret Jewishness did not color her responses to palace authority. Instead, lifetime training was so ingrained she retained it even when forcibly absent from Mordecai’s guidance.
We also find comfort in overwhelming circumstances, knowing our sovereign God is here: planning, protecting, and providing.
Xerxes’ pitiful example illustrated how decisions made in haste, or anger usually ends in regret.
Realizing she had no ability or power of her own, Esther chose to trust God on behalf of her people, telling Mordecai to ask all to fast and pray with her for 3 days to seek God’s direction.
Too often, only when all our options are exhausted, do we run to God. From Esther and Xerxes stories, we learn to run to God first, trusting Him to work through me, or someone else.
The combination of prayer and fasting is mighty. Esther’s example, to step back, evaluate, and seek God’s wisdom instead of reacting, continues to serve us well in our life of constantly impending threats and crisis.
Whether calculated, or led moment-by-moment, Esther’s actions reveal that she moved ahead while listening for God’s direction – leaving room for God to work.
She fasted, and stood in faith, dressed with all authority accorded to her. She went in to the king prepared physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Xerxes’ court must have gasped when Queen Esther entered uninvited. I imagine everyone holding their breath, wondering for what concern she would risk her life.
Did Esther plan dinners for the King and Haman before fasting or while fasting? Whenever, it had to be done in faith, believing God for the details.
Although Esther had somehow entered the palace without outward identification as Jewish, God and His promises still lived within her heart. Mordecai was hated by Haman for his identity, and it had to be only a matter of time until Haman figured out Esther was also Jewish.
The situation was delicate, for though Haman had constructed the evil law, the king had signed it. Esther now had to expose Haman without accusing the king, while publicly revealing truth about herself that she had not shared with the King.
But once Esther saw the right thing she moved decisively.
It had to be a miracle of God to the fasting Jews when Xerxes honored Mordecai. If the restless monarch hadn’t read the chronicles would he have believed Haman instead?
God reversed every negative. Haman’s edict brought mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing; but later in 8:16, it was a time of light, gladness, joy, and honor.
God knew Haman would cast lots (Pur) until he got the date he wanted, allowing the intended destruction to be scheduled near Passover. While Esther’s story is a call to Purim…celebrating, feasting and rejoicing, Esther’s destiny reversal is even more about the Passover, commemorating their deliverance with purity (the blood of the Lamb).
Passover’s symbolism still proclaims that God is Elohim, reminding us: He who saved our firstborn continues to keep His covenant and His people…
God is sovereign, no matter our circumstance. We can trust Him to provide the only protection that will cause the enemy’s planned disaster to pass over us.
Only trusting in God’s truth can we cast aside foolish pride like Haman’s, and depending on God’s wisdom, make the right decisions, unlike Xerxes,
We can like Mordecai, be unafraid, despite personal risk, to identify the enemy. Admitting we can do nothing in our own strength, we can bow before God in prayer and fasting like Esther, then confidently move ahead, trusting our destiny ‘s resolution to Yeshua Messiah – King of Kings.
Commandments establishing Purim remind us to regularly practice remembering what God has done for ‘His people’, celebrating Messiah’s victory over every principality and power.
Because of sin, we all will face death, revealing our destiny-choices before God. We need to prepare for our remaining days as seriously as Esther, and celebrate our freedom and victories as heartily as all of Xerxes Jewish kingdom.
I can hardly wait to celebrate Purim – together!
Purposes of a Spiritual Lifeline are to help you write out your spiritual story – before your relationship with God, how it happened, and life changes after. It also helps to see if you have questions/concerns not yet answered, helps some to name or acknowledge growth or direction for life and ministry, and to recognize those who helped you along the way. My sisters Marlene and Marvel constantly encourage me .
Have you had some tough life experiences? Some tender ones?
Have you learned from those experiences, and passed along your life-lesson to others?
Do you find yourself recognizing others’ similar situations and sympathizing with them?
Here’s step one of a 5-step way to flesh out your heart-trained skills:
If you find this exercise helpful, you can later add to it with more specific dates and events, rather than time periods.
Who did you find important on your spiritual lifeline?
Psa. 139:1 GOD, investigate my life;
get all the facts firsthand.
Psa. 139:2 I’m an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
Psa. 139:3 You know when I leave and when I get back;
I’m never out of your sight.
Psa. 139:4 You know everything I’m going to say
before I start the first sentence.
Psa. 139:5 I look behind me and you’re there,
then up ahead and you’re there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
Psa. 139:6 This is too much, too wonderful—
I can’t take it all in!
Unwanted – a mistake – bad seed – all these hurts – yet a knowing – someone – something is here with me. God, is that you?
I’ve tried to run away, hiding in the dark, changing my name, wanting to understand if life is so hard why am I here. Dreamer, they call me yet, deep within I hear a voice telling me not to be afraid – God is that you?
Psa. 139:7 -12
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.
I don’t know how I know that my life began before birth, but I do. There’s a sense of the beyond when I look at your creation – the great Orion calls out and says I know you…is that right? Is that you, God?
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Psa. 139:17 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I’ll never comprehend them!
Psa. 139:18 I couldn’t even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
Thank you, God for making yourself known to me.
Billy Sunday preached on prayer: “The man who truly prays ‘Thy kingdom come’ cannot pass a saloon and not ask himself the question, ‘What can I do to get rid of that thing that is blighting the lives of thousands of young men, that is wrecking homes, and that is dragging men and women down to hell?’ You cannot pray ‘Thy kingdom come,’ and then rush to the polls and vote for the thing that is preventing that kingdom from coming. You cannot pray ‘Thy kingdom come’ and then go and do the things that make the devil laugh. For the man who truly prays ‘Thy kingdom come’ it would be impossible to have one kind of religion on his knees and another when he behind the counter; it would be impossible to have one kind of religion in the pew and another in politics. When a man truly prays ‘Thy kingdom come’ he means it in everything or in nothing.”
Matt. 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Luke 11:2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
Many things are going on in our country that are started, stopped and legalized via our political system.
I am challenged by these words from scripture and from Billy Sunday to make every day of my year the same. To make all my decisions – my yay’s and nay’s to answer the question – will this further the kingdom of God?
Three – or maybe four days of my year are spent at the polls and if I am a believer of living in activated faith, those days will be no different than choices I make at any store, what I watch or read, at someone’s sick bed, when and what I write, or how and with whom I spend my time.
Daily we are faced with choices, mockeries of the kingdom of God. Do we truly ask ourselves what can I do to get rid of or to stop that thing that is dragging, preventing, blocking, people from knowing and enjoying the presence of God?