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Titus 2-3: Paul’s Practical Point for Titus’ Purity

Just a quick note today because Titus 2:1-10 has a very subtle point I think every young man, especially preachers and teachers need to note.

In this text, Paul told Titus what to teach older men, what to teach younger men, what to teach older women and what to teach slaves. Interestingly, when it came to the younger women, he told Titus to teach the older women what to teach them. 

Why the shift? Why not tell Titus what to teach the young women? 

Isn’t the reason a bit obvious. Titus has no business getting involved in the lives of the young women. He doesn’t need to be in any situation where he might be alone with a young woman teaching her anything. 

This just demonstrates exactly how insightful God is and how practical the word really is. Even in this subtle statement we see God’s understanding of practical ways for us to stay pure. I realize there can be all kinds of temptations even in the other relationships mentioned. But one of the most natural places to stray even while intending to be pure is when men start hanging out with younger women trying to support and educate them in anything.

Guys, don’t do it. Teach the older women to teach the younger women and protect yourself from this temptation.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

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November 21, 2008 Posted by | Purity, Teaching, Titus | , , , , | Leave a comment

Matthew 15-16: How to Offend Like Jesus

Sometimes it seems the only rule for today is don’t offend people. Of course, this rule isn’t applied to offending people because our language is crude. It doesn’t apply to offending people because we are being vulgar. It doesn’t apply to offending people because we are being sexually explicit. No, the only rule guiding society today is we are not allowed to offend someone by suggesting something they are doing religiously is wrong. After all, we are told, Jesus would never be offensive. He came down just to let everyone know how much He loved us all.

Yet, look again at Matthew 15:10-14:

“And he called the people to him and said to them, ‘Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.’ Then the disciples came and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind both will fall into a pit” (ESV).

Oh…wait…maybe Jesus wasn’t as PC as modern folk want to claim. However, note that Jesus’ offense was not because of carelessness or lack of concern. He was merely going to teach the truth no matter what anyone thought about it. If if offended them, so be it.

We need to keep this in mind. As Christians, we should not be carelessly and recklessly offensive. Offending because we don’t care about people and therefore we mock them or treat them sarcastically should not be known among us. However, we need to come to grips with the fact that lots of people just won’t like the truth. Whether they like it or not, we have to teach it just like Jesus did. 

I think the key is to check our motivation. When we speak, are we speaking the truth in love? Or are we merely trying to put someone with whom we disagree in their place? Are we trying to help someone? Or are we trying to make them look foolish?

If someone is offended because we are being careless, reckless and sarcastic, then we need to repent and make amends. If someone is offended because they simply won’t accept the truth revealed in God’s word, then we should recognize them for the blind guides they are. 

Keep the faith and keep reading.

ELC

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Jesus, Matthew, Teaching | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 10-11: Slave Makers in Church

Throughout II Corinthians, Paul is repeatedly correcting problems. In II Corinthians 11, he is trying to get the Corinthians back into the right mindset about serving God according to the law of Christ and not by picking and choosing bits of the Old Covenant to bind on people. Judaizing teachers were constantly following Paul trying to bind circumcisions, Sabbaths, feasts and other aspects of that Old Law on these new Christians. 

Because the Corinthians had been influenced, they were turning their backs on Paul. Apparently, the Judaizers were making headway by ridiculing Paul’s physical presence and poor speaking ability. They must have been bragging about all the great things they had done, but were only arguing from a fleshly foundation. They were trying to make Paul look like a fool.

As is often the case, the proclaimer of truth has to defend himself against straw man arguments and fallacious reasoning. In this chapter, I can hear some of Paul’s frustration as he wrote: “For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!” (II Corinthians 11:19-21, ESV). 

These Corinthians were being made slaves by the Judaizing teachers who were taking up the role of the Pharisees, laying heavy weights on the backs of people even though they were not willing to carry the weight themselves. They were enslaving them because they were pushing them back under a covenant that did not provide salvation but would only focus them on the flesh. They were being taken advantage of because many of these false teachers were only seeking dishonest gain.

Paul’s point was that it was sad that a true proclaimer of the true saving Gospel is accused of being weak, foolish and arrogant, while those who were really like that were being lauded as God’s special people. It was sad that someone who really was taking advantage of people, devouring people and destroying the souls of people is praised as loving and caring and really spiritual, while the one with the truth is despised. This was especially sad because Paul knew these Corinthians would not get to stand before God and say, “It’s not my fault, it was these false teachers.” They were being devoured and they would pay the price.

But what really gets me is how this is happening today. Few teachers are trying to press circumcision, but there are erring teachers who are enslaving and devouring people just as much, yet they are being lauded as the truly spiritual. The modern push for entertainment based assemblies, social welfare based evangelism and “me” based spiritual walk is lauded as really spiritual. But they are enslaving people right and left to flesh based Christianity. How many teachers spend more time trying to collect a “seed of faith” (interpret that “money”) from their hearers than actually giving them the hard lessons from God’s word? How many spend so much time saying everyone is just alright, instead of challenging folks to be more like Christ? Somehow, these are the people that are lauded and that is so sad. Just as in Paul’s day, the folks who were really leading everyone astray were the ones people liked. The folks who teach the hard truths of Jesus’ saving gospel get repudiated. 

Let’s make sure we are really following the gospel and not being led into slavery. We can only do that by making sure what is being taught is really from the Bible and then living it. Let’s hold our teachers to higher standards than merely being passionate presenters. Let’s force them to teach us truth. To do that, of course, we have to be willing to be pricked and corrected. We need to understand, if we never walk away from a teacher thinking, “Wow, I need to change,” then the teacher is not setting us free through the gospel, he is enslaving us to something that won’t save.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

October 3, 2008 Posted by | II Corinthians, Teaching | , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 8-9: 5 Keys to Winning More Souls

“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel. That I may share with them in its blessings.”

I Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV)

 

This passage affected me so much, I had to preach on it this week. I need to do better at getting the word out to the loss. I learned five keys from this passage to help.

1. We have to see the gospel as good news.

The word “gospel” has essentially become a specialized word for us. We see that and hear “whatever the Bible says.” However, when our first century counterparts read this letter, they didn’t see a specialized religious word. They saw the word “euaggelion” which literally meant “good message” or “good news.” What do you do with good news? You share it. If we see the gospel as merely a list of requirements and rules that limit us, we’re not likely to share it, because we don’t see it as good news. Only when we recognize the gospel is the good news to set us free from our sins, will we get the message out (cf. Romans 6:16-23).

2. We have to see lost people as lost.

Repeatedly, Paul says he was doing his work in order to “win” and “save” souls. The reason is, he saw lost people as lost. He was like a man walking in a ship of safety, casting out a life preserver because he saw the souls drowning all around him. What would happen if he was walking on the ship looking at the clouds, just chit-chatting with other boat riders and never looking over the edge at the waters? No one would be saved. When we come in contact with people, we shouldn’t just see bank tellers, check-out clerks, co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, we should see lost people drowning in the bad news of their sins. We have the good news that will save them.

3. We have to see ourselves as servants to the lost. 

In I Corinthians 9:19, Paul said he was free from all, but made himself a servant so that he might save some. Being a servant means sacrifice. It means sacrificing our desires, wants and goals in order to accomplish what the lost need. We may have to sacrifice time. We may have to sacrifice money. We may have to sacrifice recreations. We may have to sacrifice our liberties. This is what servants do.

4. We have to get out of our comfort zone.

Think about the first day that Paul went to teach Gentiles in their home and they dropped a greasy piece of pork on his plate. Do you think that was comfortable for him? What about just teaching a Gentile to begin with? Was that comfortable for a Jew raised as a separatist Pharisee? He got out of his comfort zone. We need to have a sign that says–“Comfort Zone: No Parking.”

5. We have to use all means to save others.

“All means,” that was what Paul used to try to save some. That means proclaiming the gospel to the lost is not something we do in addition to everything else we do. That means we are thinking about teaching the lost in everything we do. Little League provides contact with 10 to 15 families who may need the gospel. A trip to Wal-Mart provides countless contacts. Work is not just a place of employment. It is a place in which we can display the fruit of the spirit and pursue spiritual conversations. We need to be thinking evangelism through every part of our life. I’ll give you a practical way to get the spiritual into conversations which someone shared with me and I am starting to use it. While at a restaurant, let your waiter or waitress know you are about to pray and then ask if he/she has something for which you could pray. I tried it for the first time last week and the waiter’s girlfriend’s brother had just died. He wanted us to pray for her. Do you think that made an impact on him? I think it did.

If you would like to read or listen to the sermon I presented based on this passage, click the link below.
Winning More!
Keep the faith and keep reading,
ELC

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Evangelism, Growth, I Corinthians, Responsibility, Sacrifice, salvation, Serving, Teaching | , , , , | Leave a comment