Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 3 July 2019

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.  Titus 1:1-2 (NIV).

Here’s a little more of why God put it on Paul’s heart to write to Titus; part of the purpose for this letter:   the hope of eternal life.

I think of “The Color Purple.”   Great book; great movie.   In the movie, Oprah Winfrey’s character, Sofia, is strong and determined while Celie, played by Whoopi Goldberg, is more withdrawn but steady.  Sofia is bull-headed in everything she does.  Celie is consistently abused, both physically and emotionally, and has resigned herself to that fate until Sofia calls her out on it.   Celie’s response:   this life doesn’t last forever but heaven will.  Sofia’s response to that?   That’s great but what about now?

Wouldn’t that response apply to most of our world.  After all, it’s reasonable, isn’t it?   What about now?   What about me?   Don’t I matter?

Perhaps both Celie and Sofia were right; perhaps it’s a ‘both/and’ situation.   The hope of eternity is a promise, not a wishing well kind of hope.   It’s a certainty, a foundation.   God, who never lies, promised it.   It’s like the law of gravity:   something universal on which we can rely.   It matters now and later at the same time.

God chose mankind to display His grace and His love.  He could have chosen honeybees but He didn’t.  We are the elect, and those who follow Jesus know this.   Why?   Because God, who doesn’t lie, gave Himself in His Son to die for us when we didn’t deserve it.   Because He won forever in heaven for us when we couldn’t.   That means we get to enjoy the peace of that hope right now.   It can change hearts to live with a better outlook…if we let it.   It’s the Sofia moment:   what about now?   Yes, Oprah:  what about now.   The peace of God is for right now, for dealing in love and justice with our fellow man, including those who abuse us.   Including those who are bull-headed.  Including ourselves.

And the peace of God is for our eternity in heaven as well.   It’s for later, for after the elect are given an eternal reward of living in His presence.   Abused people are forgiven by Christ; abusers, too.   And bull-headed people, too.   Jesus did EVERYTHING necessary and possible to open God’s presence to us.  All we have to do is accept it.  The reward for it is heaven, which, as Celie might say, we’ll see in a little while.

For further reading:  Numbers 23:19, Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Timothy 2:2, Hebrews 6:18, James 1:1, Titus 1:3

King Jesus, I believe Your promise.   The hope of heaven is mine now and forever.   Teach me today to share that in how I live this gift of my life.

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Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 2 July 2019

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.  Titus 1:1 (NIV).

Welcome back, you of God’s elect.    That’s right:   King Jesus Himself chose YOU.   Before you chose to believe in Him, or question Him, or even think about Him, He chose you to believe in Him.   To communicate with Him; to understand Him; to worship Him; to receive His eternal blessings of peace and love and joy and fulfillment.

Paul wrote this letter to another of his protégés, a man named Titus.   It is believed that Titus was a Greek, a Gentile, who Paul had ordained as a bishop in Crete.   Titus had apparently been with Paul at the time 2 Corinthians was written, and Titus was also apparently successful in evangelizing the word of God.  Part of that word was learning to understand that he (Titus, as well as Paul and all the other believers) was elect by God:   chosen by God Himself to further the faith and knowledge of people.

That’s our mission, too.   I’m not a bishop in the church; perhaps you are (I know at least one).  Yet we, as followers of Jesus, are chosen by God to help others increase their knowledge of Him.   This is the secondary theme of most of Paul’s letters (the first being to give glory to Jesus).   Paul uses his words to convey to his readers – and to us – how it is our God-given mission to share the faith with other people by how we think, speak, and act.   Some people, like Titus, will do it in leadership positions.   Others, perhaps like us, will do it through our words and actions.

God chose us each for that, we and we alone.  He made us in love to be unique, to have unique thoughts and talents and abilities that nobody else has.   He put us in the time and place where we are to live our lives for service in His Kingdom.   You may not always feel special; I’m betting you don’t think you’re called or even chosen by God for much, at least not most of the time.

That doesn’t change the fact that you are.   God put it on your heart to take an interest in Him, to want Him in your life somehow.   He did that so that you might know Him more, and then so you might share Him with the people in your orbit.   Nobody else on Earth is you; nobody else can do what you do.   That’s because God elected you to be you and you alone.   He wants you as you are, just for who you are.   Just like he did Paul and Titus.

For further reading:  Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Timothy 2:2, James 1:1, Titus 1:2

King Jesus, thank You for choosing me, for equipping me to live this life.   Help me do that.

Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 18 April 2019, Maundy Thursday

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.   2 Timothy 2:10 (NIV).

Today is Maundy Thursday.   Think of it as election day.   We are the elected.   Think about that.

How do you obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus?   Everything that could be done to save mankind from the second death of damnation has been done by Jesus.   He did it on Easter Sunday, which we’ll celebrate in a few days.  The ONLY thing you do to put that salvation into effect in your life is believe.   With belief comes love.  That’s it; nothing more, nothing less.  All the work, all the spiritual battling, all the sacrifice, all the love:   Jesus did it all.   The only thing we do is believe.   And not lip service; real belief.   Believing means surrendering to His will, surrendering control of your life to Him.   It means letting His Spirit guide your heart to remake your life away from sinful ways.   It means replacing enmity with amity, questions with understanding, hate with love.

The payoff for it?   Eternal glory.  That eternity starts now, here on the Third Rock, there in your life where you live now.   You participate in it now and will for the rest of your life here, until the time your life here is ended and you move to eternity with Jesus in person.  Then the fun really begins.

And who begins this journey for you?   You know the answer:   God does.   Jesus did from the time in Eden to the last moment of your life.  In love, God is eternally all-knowing.   He knows ahead of time who will end up with Him at the end of time, yet He loves us enough to put aside this knowledge and grant us free will.   You and I don’t HAVE TO believe in Jesus.   We get to.   We get to choose whether or not to believe that He has done everything for salvation or not.

With that comes accepting – or not – that He loved us before we even knew Him.  You and I can love Him because He first loved us, or we can choose to not believe it and allow to be so for God to turn us over to the consequences of our choice.   Love respects choices, and God has that kind of love for us.  He will keep working on us, providing what we need to make the right choice up until the moment we die.   After that moment, it’s too late to decide.   We will all meet Him.   Will you stand in joy for your choices, or fall in damned defeat because of them?   He elected you, chose you, through love.   On this Maundy Thursday, what will you do?

For further reading: Colossians 1:24, Titus 1:1, 2 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Peter 5:10, 2 Timothy 2:11.

Lord, thank You for electing me to be saved.   Help our unbelief.   Forgive our sins.