Art needs an artist, a building, a builder, an invention, an inventor, and, of course, creation, a creator. Genesis 1 is the history of God at work in the formation of the world. This new series is to help us grasp the revelation of God at work in our work. The goal is to learn how to partner with God so that everything we do turns out good. If we don't know where we came from, we will never discover where we are going. Life will not have its correct meaning; we will be as the earth was, formless and empty. The best place to start, therefore, in this series is "In The Beginning."
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the water's depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said ......." (Gen 1:1-3a)
We learn in these verses that God can create out of that which is formless and void. God's hands go to work through His Spirit as He speaks. God is the author of our existence, and we can only find our purpose through Him. Our lives are without form and void until we know our maker. Our work will lack significance because we don't understand its eternal value. Whatever we do, whatever we own, will never satisfy without
God created light, sky, stars, creatures in the sea, land, and air, and then in verse 26, it says, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness, they will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth."
We see the words "Us" and "Our," signifying God's triune nature as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We were created for fellowship to work together with others. We can never reach our full potential alone. Who we choose to partner in life is vital both in marriage and in business. Humanity is to rule, and leadership is in us all! We are to steward what God has created. How pleased our father depends on how well we manage what He has given us in faith.
We see in verse 28 males and females are given their earthly responsibility: "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it."
We are in the position of Vice-President of Earth; as long as we walk with God, we have the designated authority to rule this planet. Do we grasp the power that we have in Christ Jesus? Don't listen to any lie that undervalues who you are in Christ. As long as the Spirit leads us, whatever we speak and do in the name of Jesus has the seal of authority to accomplish it.
Creation took place in six days; on the seventh day after God completed His work, He rested and declared the day Holy. We are not too overwork but to enjoy the product of our labor. Rest is a must! Maintaining proper balance in life is necessary, or our bodies will wear out, our emotions will become overwhelmed, and our spirit man will grow dim. Now Hebrews 4 helps us understand the deeper meaning of rest; it is more than just a day; it results from trusting our lives, including our work in God's hands. Living in disobedience is when life becomes complicated. In Christ, the yoke is easy; the burden is light. Rest is a lifestyle of leaning on the Lord for guidance and strength.
In Genesis chapter 2, we learn about the man and woman in the garden of Eden. God gave Adam the responsibility of naming all that He created. Names have meaning; they identify what something is. We should never take a word for granted, whether it is a person, business, or any object. Our names help us discover our specific purpose in life. We see on different occasions that God changes a name when He changes a life, such as with Jacob to Israel. That is one reason I sensed God led me to change my name to Joshua from Justin.
God already had the creation of females in His plans, but He wanted the male to recognize their need for help. The responsibility God gave Adam was not entirely satisfying without a partner. So the Lord caused Adam to have a deep sleep and then came forth from his side, the first woman named Eve. Man will never be complete without a woman; work is not enough to satisfy. If one works so hard that they have no time to maintain intimate relationships, they are miserable. Man and woman are to be side by side in partnership, complementing each other, in Holy union. They together represent the fullness of God. God has given some a grace to be single such as Eunuchs and individuals like the Apostle Paul.
In Genesis 3, we read about the Temptation and the Fall. Lucifer, the fallen angel, was either a snake or used to describe his cunning nature. Lucifer deceives Eve to believe that God did not mean they would die if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil but rather that they will become like God.
We see that Adam and Eve were not together when Lucifer spoke, and Adam did not tell her what God said when discovering what happened. We learn that open communication is vital for a partnership to work, or lies will creep in. God wants us to experience only good, but anything we separate from Him will turn into darkness and deception. Adam did not own up to his wrong but instead blamed Eve. We can only resolve conflict when we first own up to where we went wrong, and we cannot make another person get it right unless they recognize it themselves.
The result of Adam and Eve's sin was they suddenly realized they were naked. Shame and guilt are the bi-product of evil; to live under its weight is a curse, with the result being hostility between male and female, intense labor pains, and work no longer being pleasurable as we see described in Genesis 3:15-19. God, though, had a plan of redemption that by the shed blood of His only begotten Son, by confession our sins they are forgiven, our conscience made clean, and our relationship to God restored.
The Old Testament stories have individuals God used as types and shadows to point them towards the need of a Savior. We were created not to be God but to be like God and walk in fellowship with Him. Hebrews chapter 11 is the hall of faith, great men and women God has used to work through. Join me on this journey as we learn from these heroes how God wants to work in our work to restore the earth to the glory of Eden.
Sunday October 17th
I’m sure that we could all agree that our good deeds aren’t what gets us into heaven. Only our faith in Jesus gives us access to eternal life. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do good deeds.
One time these three Boy Scouts were excited to tell their Scoutmaster about their good deed for the day.
“I just helped an old lady across the street,” one of them said.
“I helped that old lady across the street too”, the second boy said.
The Scoutmaster looked at the third boy, who said, “And I helped that same old lady across the street.”
The Scoutmaster was a little bit skeptical. “Let me get this straight. It took all three of you boys to help one old lady to cross the street?”
The boys nodded. “Yes, sir. You see, she really didn’t want to go!”
As Pastor Josh showed us last week, Paul closed out his letter to Titus talking about the need for Christian good deeds. In verse 1 of chapter three he said:
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
“Remind them”, Paul says. Remind those people that you are leading. Remind the church of what is true and what the Scriptures say again and again and again. That is the job of a pastor, and Titus was the pastor over that flock.
Peter said the same thing about himself in 1 Peter 1:12
“So, I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.”
The word “remind” means to call to mind what is already known. (Like re-mind) What has Titus been teaching these believers that he needs to be constantly reminding them about?
Titus was to remind these new believers that they represented Jesus to the world around them. That’s why they were to be “ready for every good deed.”
It’s just like Jesus told us in Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Titus is to remind these Christians that how they live as Christians should be markedly different from their un-saved former lives.
Look at how Paul puts it in verse 3:
3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.
Paul describes our former lives as:
foolish - this means a lack of spiritual understanding.
disobedient - this means rebellious against God and His Word
deceived - we were led astray by Satan
We should always show gratitude for how God changed us, because remembering our former life builds humility. We didn’t save or change ourselves. And God’s kindness was the key:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Many commentators believe this long sentence might have been an early hymn that the church would have been familiar with.
Paul sets up a contrast between our past and our present with the words “at one time…but when.”
At one time, we were lost, hopeless, and helpless. But when the kindness and love of our Savior appeared, everything changed!
He saved us, not because of any righteous thing we had done, but because of His mercy. We didn’t deserve it and we couldn’t earn it. God’s heart was motivated by kindness, grace, and mercy.
Does that seem hard to believe? In verse 8 Paul says, “believe it!”
8 This statement is trustworthy; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for people.
So, there it is again. We as Christians are supposed to devote ourselves to doing good deeds. Remember, we are not saved by good deeds but for good deeds.
One more time before he ends this letter, Paul goes back to the importance of good deeds in verse 14:
14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unproductive.
Paul talks about good deeds six times in the 46 verses that make up this epistle.
This focus on doing good deeds is one of the main themes of this letter to Titus. Our faith ultimately leads to our serving by way of good deeds – as we say here at Praise Tabernacle, serving everywhere.
But we need to ask, if we should be spending our time doing good deeds, what good deeds should we be doing? Helping little old ladies to cross the street?
There are lots of good things that we can do that would fit the definition of good deeds, but this morning I would like to encourage all of us to join together in one of the BEST deeds that we can do as a church, one that God has CALLED us to do:
And that’s prayer.
As those who have been called to lead this church, the elders of Praise Tabernacle have felt a strong calling for the church to come together in obedience to the words of 2nd Chronicles 7:14
14 and (if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
In verse 14 of Titus 3, Paul says, “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds”
In verse 14 of 2nd Chronicles God says, “My people” must humble themselves and pray.
We are God’s people. We the ones who are called by His name.
Prayer is the primary “good deed” that we are called to, because without a foundation of prayer, nothing else gets accomplished.
That’s why, in the last few weeks, we have been placing specific prayer points in our weekly church email – things that we can pray over together in unity.
And we have even chosen a time to unify – 7:14.
Either 7:14 am or 7:14 pm, or both.
Whatever works for your schedule is fine.
Why 7:14? To remind us of that verse from 2nd Chronicles.
Should we only be praying at 7:14?
Of course not. We should be praying all throughout the day.
But isn’t there something cool about the realization that IF you are praying at 7:14 you are joining in with other brothers and sisters who are focusing on those same prayer targets?!
And to make things even easier for you to remember, we had these cool wristbands made with the time on it – 7:14 – and the words “It’s time to pray!”
Elder Jeff Wolfe had felt led to make a declaration of our commitment to this good deed pf unified prayer. He wanted to hold up a sword. And then we thought maybe everyone who wanted to make the commitment could come up and take turns holding up the sword.
But then we decided it would be much simpler to have anyone who wants to join in this committed prayer just raise their arm as if holding a sword and we will bring you a wristband as a symbol of your pledge.
So, I am going to ask Jeff to come forward now with the sword.
If you aren’t on our email list to get the prayer points, make sure that we get your email address.
And if are on the list, you might remember that I wrote a few weeks ago about the blessings that are promised to God’s people if they will follow the command of 2nd Chronicles 7:14. And these blessings are found in verses 15 and 16:
15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there always.
That’s what we are entering into today. Those promised blessings are for US. God’s eyes, ears, and heart will always be with us, hearing and answering our prayers!
Francis Shaeffer and Charles Colson wrote books titled "How Now Shall We Live" to help the church go beyond salvation to understand faith as an entire worldview, a perspective on all of life.
Paul knew his time was short and wrote his dearest sons, first Timothy and now Titus, that they put elders in place to teach believers how to live godly lives. Paul knew strong leaders must be in place to build on what he started to be complete.
Paul gives both of them a list of character qualifications for church leadership. Leaders lead by example, so these qualities are not just for elders but everyone to follow. The world focuses on looks, sounds, and abilities; as you see in TV shows like "The Voice, or America's Got Talent," God focuses on the heart. People are naturally gifted, but the godly character is grown. It is a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart through hearing and applying Truth. The world desires people to behave right, that's why there is law and order, yet humanity falls short without the power of God.
Titus, stationed in Crete, had a difficult task for the people's reputation was liars, cruel, and lazy. Salvation starts one down the road of transformation, but one must renew the mind according to God's ways to experience continual change. The bible is our source of living; if we don't learn to apply it, we will still live according to our surrounding culture. We are a product of what we hear and see; until we choose to listen and view something different, we remain the same. The bible doesn't just tell us how to live; it empowers us through the Holy Spirit.
In verses six through nine, we learn the leadership qualifications; they live blamelessly in the community, faithfully to their spouse, and their children are not rebellious. Elders are not to be arrogant or quick-tempered, not heavy drinkers, violent or dishonest with money. Elders are hospitable, loving what is good, wise, righteous, holy, self-controlled, teaching sound doctrine, and able to refute anyone that would contradict it. Elders are to stand against and silence rebellious legalistic, slanderous gossippers; if not, they will overthrow entire households.
Just as in the early church, there are wolves in sheep clothing; that's why good overseers need to be in place to discern and protect the sheep. How can we recognize wolves since they are in sheep clothing? Matthew 7:15-20 says to judge by the fruit. We are not to assume anything about anyone until we get close enough to them to determine what character they have. As it says in verses 15-16, "to the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure both their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work."
We must live out what we tell others; otherwise, our words won't have power. People watch more than they listen. If our lifestyle doesn't match what we speak, we lose credibility.
Younger people should respect older people, but if they haven't lived wisely and practiced self-control, they shouldn't expect it. Older women are to devote themselves to training younger women to love their husbands and children, living wise, submissive, and pure. Young men are to live wisely, setting an example and reflecting a life of integrity according to what they have been taught. We should live in a way that those who oppose us will end up in shame, for they can find nothing wrong to say about us.
The bible talks a lot about slaves and masters because in Ancient Roman/Greek cultures many people were in that situation. It was how conquering countries gave conquered people a place in society. Paul did not promote slavery but it was a reality of many of whom he taught. You are most likely not a slave but you can apply these instructions to work or anywhere you submit to another. Paul said do not talk back or steal, but show yourselves trustworthy and good, which will make the gospel attractive in every way. The best way to see situations change is when people's hearts change.
How we conduct ourselves as Christians is how we change the world. Preaching the gospel is part, but living the gospel is when the world sees the Word going to work. People need evidence, a demonstration before they are moved, without it we are just like a bad salesman.
Verses 11-15 reveal how the grace of God empowers us to live right. Where we turn from sinful pleasures to living in wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God. Living free from every kind of sin and committed to doing good deeds.
The charge: Repent if you are not living right! All believers have the same standard, Christ-likeness. Dedicate yourself to knowing and applying the Truth.
It is nice when someone wants to do right, but it is even better when they do so. We all originated from God, and so there is a part of humankind that has a conviction; the problem is that without the Holy Spirit's help, the desire for good falls short. The world needs to see people living right consistently to believe that through God, it is possible.The nature of sin is to blame, just as we saw Adam towards Eve in the garden. Leaders are those who get the finger pointed. Titus 3:1 says to submit to the government and its officers. Well, what if they are wrong? We live in a fallen world, so we can expect the government to be wrong, but as Christians, our response should be to submit, not rebel. We understand that we fight our battles through prayer and the leading of the Lord. God may lead us to take a righteous stand like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. did regarding systemic racism. Yet, the way he fought against evil was different than those in the world who fight with physical force. Taking down evil leaders like Adolf Hitler will mean, on some occasions, that war is necessary. Yet, prayer is still the vital aspect of the eradication of evil.
Titus 3:2 says, "we are always to be ready to do good." What is the right thing to do in situations can be complex, but that is why we have the helper, counselor, power agent, the Holy Spirit? As it says in verse three, we know that quarreling and slandering others is not the right way to deal with problems. We should not be taken back by those in the world; we were once like them until God revealed His love and kindness to us (vs. 4). Therefore, our response should be the same, with love and mercy so we can show God to them in the way we live.
Only through grace have we been made right in His sight (vs.7), so why would we judge and tear another person down when they don't even walk with the Lord. Our job is to be devoted to what is good, trusting that those around us will follow and do the same as we practice what we preach (vs. . The warning repeated numerous times in Paul's writings is to avoid foolish discussions, which are a useless waste of one's time (vs. 9). If we focused more on doing the work of the Lord, we would not have time to talk so much. Our tongues get us in the most trouble, so we need to learn to speak less and work more (vs.14). Leaders need to silence those that divide the body and not allow foolishness to continue; it is the world's main excuse why they reject God because of hypocrisy from Christians. If we can't get along, what can we offer the world?
The Charge: God is Good; we do good only through Him. Repent for being idle, having a loose tongue, causing division, and then commit to walking closer to your good, good, Father.