The Parable of the Sower, Soils

Today’s reading:  Mark 4, Psalm 128

As I studied Mark 4 this week, I found myself in familiar territory.  I’ve read these parables and stories about Jesus and his followers many times.  Even so, I was still struggling with what the message of this post should be.  I went to my Life Application Study Bible (Tyndale House), as I often do, for help.  There I found a few good reminders about Jesus’ use of parables.

  • Using familiar subjects to teach spiritual truths required Jesus’ listeners to engage their hearts and minds to understand the story. This engagement made the message meaningful to those who were open to learning. To those whose hearts and minds were closed, the message remained hidden.
  • Jesus’ parables generally had one main point. When reading them today, we must be careful NOT to go beyond what message Jesus intended to teach with the story.

So there I sat with Mark 4. Were my heart and mind engaged?  Was I open to learning?  I worked on…  The chapter begins with the Parable of the Sower, or the Parable of the Soils, as it is identified in my Bible.  Verses 3-8 tell the story, then verses 15-20 provide the interpretation.  Jesus said, the farmer is the one who brings God’s message to others, while the seed represents those who hear the message.  He went on to explain the four different types of soil on which the seeds may fall:

  • Hard soil – those who hear God’s message, but Satan lures them away before they accept it.
  • Rocky soil – those who joyfully receive God’s message, but don’t grow deep roots. When they run into persecution, they fall away.
  • Thorny soil – those who hear and accept God’s message, but the pull of earthly desires keeps them from maturing and producing fruit.
  • Good soil – those who hear and accept God’s message, then multiply and yield a great harvest for God’s kingdom.

Jesus’ message here was all about the soil, and how it represented the condition of our hearts, right? Our hearts clearly need to be like the good soil in order to be pleasing to God.  Seems pretty straight forward, but therein was my struggle.  Do the four types of soil represent four different types of people, some are pleasing to God and others are not?  Does this mean some receive salvation and some do not?  Perhaps our hearts may have represented a different type of soil at different times of our life.  If this is the case, is it possible to lose our salvation?   I wonder if different types of soil may even be present in our hearts at the same time.  Do you find yourself more open to apply God’s calling in some parts of your life than others?  For example, do you easily respond to God’s call to worship him and fellowship with other believers, but at the same time you struggle to sacrificially give of your time and money in service for his kingdom?  Hmmm… If the only type of soil pleasing to God is the good soil, how will any of us ever measure up?  Does salvation require a heart of 100% pure, good soil all of the time?  Maybe this parable isn’t as straightforward as I originally thought.

As I continued to study, the light bulb finally came on…  Jesus’ message in the Parable of the Soils isn’t really about the soil at all.  Rather, the Parable of the Sower is truly about the Sower!  See, left to our own devices, our hearts will never be 100% pure, good soil.  Even so, God continues to lavishly scatter the seeds of his gospel message on our unworthy souls.  Our only hope is Jesus Christ, our Savior.  His sacrifice on the cross paid the price for our sins.  It is only through him we can ever measure up to God’s standards.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9).

 

Peace

Today’s reading:  Psalm 122, John 20

I spent this week in Columbus, OH on business. Because it really doesn’t save time to fly, and since it is a lot less expensive, I just picked up a company car and drove the 5.5 hours.  For some reason this week, I found the drive to and from Columbus very nostalgic.  It was either the Christmas music to which I was listening or simply the power of suggestion (as I smiled when I saw the I75 sign for Toledo, OH), but it brought back memories of driving to my Grandpa and Grandma York’s house in Toledo for Christmas when I was a little girl.

Back in the mid-1970’s I don’t remember having anything but a radio in the car. We probably listened to it quite a bit, but I mostly remembering singing on long car rides.  As preacher’s kids, my sister and I grew up in church.  Hymns, Christmas carols and praise & worship songs were about the only songs to which we knew all the words (we also knew the words to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers, but that is a story of stern motherly discipline for another time).  We sang our hearts out on those rides.

As I read Psalm 122 this week, it made me think of singing songs on the way to Grandpa and Grandma York’s house at Christmas. Psalms 120-134 are referred to as Songs of Ascent.  These were songs of praise and worship to God sung by Jews who were walking to Jerusalem for annual Jewish festivals.  The city of Jerusalem sits on a high hill.  No matter where you’re coming from, you have to travel uphill to get there, thus the name Songs of Ascent.

Psalm 122:6-9 talks about peace. Very fitting for a time of year when it is common to hear the word peace or phase peace on earth.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity
(Psalm 122:6-9).

Vocabulary.com defines peace as a stress-free state that comes when there’s no fighting or war; everything co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom.  I’d say this is a pretty common understanding of the word “peace” in the 21st century. The peace about which the Jews were singing in Psalm 122, however, was much more than just the absence of conflict.  According to the Life Application Study Bible (Tyndale House), the Jews were singing about a peace that brought completeness, health, justice, prosperity and protection.  This isn’t a peace this world can provide, but one that can only come from faith in God.  This peace is the confident assurance that God works all things together according to his divine plan; a comfort that he has every situation under control.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week we read through John 14- 17. These three chapters are often referred to as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse – his guidance to the eleven disciples (sans Judas) after the last supper, before his crucifixion.  Jesus was trying to prepare them for life without him.  The disciples still didn’t completely understand his plan, and it was causing them anxiety.  Think about it.  These eleven men left everything to follow Jesus, and now he was talking about leaving.  How could they be at peace?  Can you identify with their fear and unrest?  Jesus comforted the disciples with these words:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Rise, let us go from here (John 14:27-31).

Do you see Jesus’ words of peace? – “…for the prince of this world is coming…he has no hold over me…”  Knowing that Jesus has all power over Satan is the source of our confident assurance.  Jesus is our peace.

Loving Jesus

Today’s reading:  John 12, Psalm 114

In 1992, Gary Chapman introduced us to The 5 Love Languages.   His guidance to better understand the different ways people give and receive love, and then adapt our style accordingly, has helped countless couples foster lasting love relationships for more than 25 years.  Chapman’s 5 Love Languages are as follows:

  • Words of affirmation – showing someone you love them by building them up with encouraging words.
  • Quality time – showing someone you love them by giving them your undivided attention.
  • Gifts – showing someone you love them by giving them gifts.
  • Acts of service – showing someone you love them by doing things for them.
  • Physical touch – showing someone you love them by holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc.

The opening story of our text today teaches us a lot about loving Jesus. The setting was a dinner party in Bethany to honor Jesus, who had just raised Lazarus from the dead.  The hosts were three of Jesus’ close friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  Each loved Jesus very much.  The actions of these three friends show us all five love languages in action.

  • Words of affirmation – When Mary first encountered Jesus, she affirmed her love and complete trust in his power with her words.  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).
  • Quality time – Lazarus showed his love for Jesus by spending quality time with him.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him (John 12:2).
  • Gifts – Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet.  Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).
  • Acts of service – Martha showed her love for Jesus by serving the meal.  Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him (John 12:2).
  • Physical touch – Mary wiped the perfume on Jesus’ feet with her hair.  Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).

The story goes on to reveal Judas’ rebuke of Mary for the extravagance of her gift to Jesus.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages”. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it (John 12:4-6).

Judas pretended to care about taking care of those in need as a cover for his own selfish motives.  It is likely Jesus knew Judas was stealing money from the disciples’ fund, although the Bible never records Jesus addressing it directly.  He simply told Judas to leave Mary alone.  Do you think Judas forgot Jesus could see the true selfish motive of his heart?

What does Jesus see when he looks at the true motives of your heart? Does he see a deep, extravagant love for him that you demonstrate through various love languages?  Or does he see a deep love for something else that you cover up by saying you love Jesus and “doing the right things”?  If the latter, don’t be discouraged, there is still hope.  May I encourage you with Paul’s words to the Church in Ephesus?

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that (Ephesians 5:2 MSG).

 

Rules of the Game

Today’s reading:  Matthew 7, Psalm 80

Last September, I told you about my workgroup engaging in the Gallup organization’s Strengthsfinder 2.0 exercise. Remember how I told you I didn’t like team building exercises because I’m always afraid the leader is going to make me hug my co-workers, hold hands or do something else I don’t want to do?  A whole year later, I want to be sure you know I have not changed.  I still hate these exercises.  I do, however, recognize their value.  That’s why I keep coming back to them.  Understanding why I am the way I am, and why I tend to do the things I do, helps me appropriately adapt to a variety of situations.

In Strengthsfinder 2.0 one of my top 5 themes was competition. I am energized by it.  Not really for the joy of competing, but because competitions produce a winner and a loser.  Understanding the rules of the game drives me to plot, plan and strategize on how I can win.

Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5-7 are referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”.   This sermon, which he delivered early in his ministry, is arguable the most complete teaching Jesus gave on what it takes to follow him.  These are the rules of the game, they tell us how we can win.  This sermon covers various subjects – our attitudes, our responsibility to influence, murder, adultery, divorce, giving, prayer, worry and judging others – just to name a few. These are all ingredients in the overall recipe of what it takes to be a true Christfollower.  As we wrap up Chapter 7 today, I want to focus on verses 21-23.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

This sounds pretty harsh. Jesus had just devoted an entire sermon to describe how he expected Christfollowers to act in a variety of situations.  But he wanted to make sure they didn’t miss the main point.  People who called themselves Christfollowers and who were following all his rules, but didn’t have a relationship with him, were still lost.  The same is true for us – it isn’t enough for us to just talk about Jesus.  It isn’t enough for us to go to church.  It even isn’t enough for us to serve others in his name.  Jesus wants to be in relationship with us.  This is the most important rule.  In order to win this game, there is no other substitute.

Overhyped

Today’s reading:  Luke 24, Psalm 72

My birthday is on Tuesday. As I was reading Luke 24 and preparing for my post this week, I reflected on one of my favorite birthday stories from two years ago.  I’ve told you this story before, but I believe it is worth repeating.

For my birthday two years ago, I decided we would go to my favorite fondue restaurant in Lincoln Park. We reserved a hotel, headed up to Chicago, got all dressed up, and took a cab to the restaurant.  This was going to be so much fun…

After the first cheese course arrived, my 11 year old started in. “Hey, I thought this was going to be nacho cheese.  This is nothing like I thought it would be.  Nacho cheese would have been way better than this stuff Mom.”  The second course came, and we had fun cooking our meat, seafood and vegetables.  Other than a minor fire started from trying to deep fry the garnishing greens, the second course was a success.  On to dessert – chocolate fondue.  Who doesn’t like a huge vat of melted chocolate with pound cake, marshmallows and fruit to dip, right?  Well, my kids were disappointed the dipping sauce was dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  As we got back in the cab after dinner Freddy summed up his sentiment well.  Five spirited words – “YOU OVERHYPED THIS PLACE MOM!”

Our assigned reading has us in Luke 24, the account of Christ’s Resurrection, today.  It is significant.  The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the Christian faith.  In fact, without it there wouldn’t be a Christian Faith.  Unlike my favorite fondue restaurant, the significance of the Resurrection cannot be overhyped.  Why?

It revealed Christ’s power over deathWe know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him (Romans 6:9).

It secured our victory over deathBut God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

In 1976 the late SM Lockridge preached a sermon titled That’s My King! Do You Know Him? to a congregation in Detroit, Michigan.  Forty years later, this message continues to be impactful and inspiring message to many audiences.  May I ask you to use one of the links below to either listen to or read an excerpt from this sermon, then stop and reflect – is this someone who’s life, death and resurrection could EVER by overhyped?

That’s my King, I hope he’s yours too.

Audio – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX_7j32zgNw

Text – http://across2u.com/ThatsMyKing.html

Truth and Love

Today’s reading:  Luke 10, Psalm 58

Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” the 2016 international word of the year.   Oxford defines it as – relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.  Thinking over the past 18 months or so, are you surprised that this word is so prominent?   Think about the 2016 Presidential election, the current political climate, fake news, and countless sports figures and movie stars taking the stage in protest.  I could go on and on, but it is exhausting.  Go back and read the definition again.  Did you notice the words “personal belief”?  While our 21st century culture may not have consensus (or really care) about truth, you cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ and buy into this agenda.

Today’s scripture in Luke 10 gives us beautiful illustrations of Jesus commitment to truth and how he demonstrated it through love.  First, he sent out 72 men to prepare several towns for his visit.  According to verse 3, he knew they were going to encounter troubles.  He sent them out with supernatural power to overcome Satan and his evil ways (Luke 10:19), yet he still instructed the men to humbly come in peace and to approach those they encountered with love and gentleness.  “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.  Whatever house you enter first, say Peace be to this house” (Luke 10:3-5). “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’ “(Luke 10:8-9).

Even though Jesus sent the men to influence with love first, he also instructed them to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to truth by sternly warning those who rejected it.  But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town (Luke 10:10-12).

The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 also demonstrates truth and love, just in the opposite order. When the expert asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus pointed to the truth. He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  When the expert went on to challenge Jesus on details by asking whom he would consider a neighbor, Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  A parable that demonstrates our responsibility to demonstrate love and compassion to others in need, regardless of their demographics.

In a person, Jesus Christ is truth and love. He doesn’t care about influencing public opinion, rather he cares about people and the life-saving grace God offers to those who put their faith in him.  Jesus Christ is the antithesis of post-truth.  Likewise, anyone who claims to have put their trust in him and is committed to following his ways must submit to his truth and act in love.

Love

Today’s reading:  2 John 1, Psalm 44

Today’s post is written by my friend Paige Holt. I’ve loved getting to know Paige over the past few years through our weekly small group Bible study.  She is a wife, a mother, and a surgeon who’s passion, love and care for people is simply contagious –

From the time I found out I was pregnant with my first child, Parker, I was worried about being a mother.  I had known that I wanted to be a mother for my entire life but once the reality hit that I was actually going to have a baby I couldn’t stop my mind from racing.  My biggest fear was that I would not bond with my child.  I was consumed with reading books about nursing, baby milestones and growth.  I talked to mothers about their journey trying to gain insight in to how it was that they developed the deep love and connection that they had with their children.  My own mother was detached and absent and my fear was that I would have that same relationship with my child.  Even after Parker was born, I struggled with fear.  I worried that I would become hardened, that the late night feedings would wear me out and that I would begrudge my baby for my lack of sleep.

I remember quite clearly when Parker was about four weeks old and he was nursing in a quiet midnight feed that it dawned on me how much God loved me.  In spite of my sin, in spite of my life of sin, he had entrusted this precious little human to me.  He had given me a soft heart for this little child.  He was giving me the ability to love this little human that he had created.  And, it was during that quiet middle of the night time, that God started speaking to me.

It was during those quiet times, with dimmed lights, that I realized how much I loved this little human.  Yes, he was cute and cuddly.  But it was much deeper than that.  I knew that I would give my life to protect this child.  And it dawned on me that God loved me so much that he sacrificed his own son so that I could be saved.  To be a new parent, holding this little snuggle bunny, and to feel the weight of love that God had for me by his sacrifice of His own Son is a feeling I will never forget.  It made me think about how heavy the burden of sin is that it would take such a sacrifice.

2 John 1 encourages us to love one another.  The author states that we should be full of love.  The truth will be with us forever.  And the passage shows the imagery of mother and child.  I am very grateful for those doubts and questions and concerns about motherhood.  It was the time in my adult life when I started to hear God’s voice again. The little nudges. The quiet whispers in the middle of the night.  All leading to the epiphany that God loved me in spite of my sin and made the ultimate sacrifice to be with me.  And in the end, I am his.

Who are you?

Today’s reading:  1 Peter 2, Psalm 30

When you meet someone new, or are asked to introduce yourself, what do you say? How do you describe who you are?  Do you talk about your job, your family, or your hobbies?

Both of my children are in middle school this year, Annika in her first year of middle school, and Freddy in his last year.  It has been an interesting first two weeks as we’ve been helping Annika make choices about extra-curricular activities.  Okay, maybe more challenging than just interesting.  See, she’s never met an extra-curricular activity she wasn’t interested in, and she wants to be good at EVERYTHING!  As a parent, I want her to have the opportunity to try a variety of different things.  It is my hope she’ll eventually discover the intersection of her abilities and what she enjoys doing…something she loves and will be passionate about pursuing.

Over the course of the last two weeks, Annika has either participated in, or asked to try, gymnastics, diving, Japanese, basketball, game club, circus, the school play and the flute.  Did I mention she is 10 years old and just starting middle school?  She has a genuine interest in these activities, but she is also swayed by what her friends are doing.  She wants to be in the mix, she doesn’t want to let her friends down, and certainly doesn’t want to pass on something she might later regret!  She is simply trying to figure out who she is in this new middle school environment.  Can you identify with her situation?  I can think of countless times over the course of my 44 years where I’ve stopped and reflected on these same questions – Who am I?  What defines me?  How do I want to be described?  What is my brand?

As I was studying today’s assigned reading, 1 Peter 2:9-10 made me stop and think about Annika.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).

More than finding her passion, I want Annika to know her value isn’t determined by her skills, abilities, or the activities in which she participates.  She has worth because of what God has done for her.  He chose her!  The scripture says, you are a chosen people…God’s special possession.  Unfortunately life will still bring her disappointments, regardless of what activities she chooses.  But trusting Jesus is the wisest choice she will ever make.  He will never let her down.

For in Scripture it says:  “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6).

Our Hope, Our God

Today’s reading:  Hebrews 8, Psalm 16

This past Sunday, I was serving alongside friend of mine. While I hadn’t seen her in about sixty days, she didn’t seem to be herself.  When we had a little break in the action, she told me her family had received some bad health news in the past few weeks.  Life-altering news.  As our conversation went on, she shared that her husband had recently been diagnosed with a terminal condition.

What? This condition generally impacts elderly individuals, not those in their prime.  Her husband has always been pretty healthy, has taken good care of himself and he doesn’t have a history of health problems.  How could this be happening to him?  Plus, she recently lost her mother and has been helping her father recover from cancer treatment over the past several months.  How much can one family really endure?  This news was hard to process.  My heart was heavy.  While my friend is still in the early stages of figuring out how to deal with this life-altering condition, our conversation over the next 45 minutes revealed her determination and complete trust in God.

As I began to prepare for today’s post, and reflected on my Sunday conversation, David’s words in Psalm 16 spoke to my heart. Scholars believe this Psalm was written during the period of time David was running from Saul, who was trying to kill him.  Even in the midst of such adverse circumstances, David trusted God and was able to find hope.

  • Even in perilous circumstances, David’s faith in God was unwavering – Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:1-2).
  • David recognized that life was from, and depended solely on God – Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure (Psalm 16:5).
  • David submitted to God and the wisdom of his ways – I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me (Psalm 16:7).
  • David focused on God’s faithfulness, the source of his protection – I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8).
  • David’s response to God’s protection was gladness – Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay (Psalm 16:9-10).
  • David recognized that happiness based on external circumstances was temporary, but joy based on God’s presence was eternal –You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:11).

This life is tough.  It presents situations we don’t understand, trials that can rob us of hope and joy.  In the midst of these circumstances may we, like David, place our trust in the one who has power over all.  He is our hope.  He is our God.

This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.  I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people (Hebrews 8:10).

Introduction to Titus

Today’s reading:  Introduction to Titus, Psalm 2

Although the book of Titus comes chronologically after 2 Timothy in our Bible, it was probably written about the same time as 1 Timothy.  Like Timothy, Titus had been a traveling companion of Paul, and someone whom Paul had been developing into a church leader.  At the time Paul wrote this letter, Titus had been given responsibility for overseeing the churches that had been planted on the island of Crete.  The book includes four primary instructional themes to guide his leadership.  These themes are timeless.  They are applicable for 21st century Christ-followers as much as they were for those in the first century.  Will you watch for them as we read this short book together?

Qualities for Leaders (Titus 1:6-9) – One of Titus’ responsibilities was to appoint leaders for the Crete churches.  This section of scripture reminds us that a person’s conduct outside the church should reveal their fitness for service inside the church.  A leader of God’s people must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:8-9).

Character of Christ-followers (Titus 2) – Christ-followers in various age groups have different experiences and different needs.  While each group has a different role to play in the church, all are expected to live upright, self-controlled and godly lives.  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…(Titus 2:11-12).

Citizenship (Titus 3:1-2) – Christ-followers are to be good citizens, obeying government leaders, and working honestly.  Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone (Titus 3:1-2).

A good life (Titus 3:4-8) – We are saved by the grace of God, not because of the good things we’ve done.  While good deeds won’t earn salvation, our gratefulness for God’s grace should compel us to serve others.  This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:8).

You may not aspire or be called to church leadership.  But let Paul’s teaching to Titus be a guide for your life…these things are excellent and profitable for everyone (Titus 3:8).