Part of being a Christian is humbling ourselves and realizing that without God, our lives truly mean nothing. We are to acknowledge that we have made a conscious choice to turn away from the bad deeds and sinful habits, and we have turned to the holy life God has presented before us. God had to forgive us of our sins first in order for us to be qualified to live this life. We are to never forget of this great forgiveness that God promised the children of Israel all those years ago. Repent from all evil ways, and choose to be transformed by the love of God and His Word.
Have you ever had to call a customer service line for one reason or another? I was on a flight when the plane had to make an emergency landing due to inclement weather. People were understandably panicked, but when we got to the airport, we realized that this landing was only the beginning of our problems. Every flight at the biggest airport in the world had been cancelled, so now everyone was waiting in line and on the phone trying to make other arrangements. Needless to say, it took ages, and every time I called customer service, they seemed to have no interest in listening to another angry customer.
This is not the same as it is with God. God works around the clock, waiting on the other end for us to call. If we knock, the door will be opened, if we ask, He will answer. If we seek His counsel, He will listen, and it is up to us to listen swiftly and speak softly, considering the words and questions that we come to Him and others with deliberately. If we call upon God, He will save us. As David says, evening, morning, noon, God answers whenever we ask for Him. If only the airline had that kind of service!
In 70 A.D., the Jews saw their revolt against the Romans as the Battle of Armageddon. 300 years later, the Bishop of Tours claimed that the end times were going to be arriving any day now. 1,000 years later, The Black Plague was making its way around Europe, as the world proclaimed that this was certainly the end! 500 years down the line, hundreds of thousands of American Christians lined up for an event that would later be known as ‘The Great Disappointment’.
Had they read 2 Peter 3, they would have realized that God takes no joy in destroying His creation, and is certainly not as fickle as the false prophecies like to imply.
Many have lived in their idea of ‘end times’, and have been convinced theirs will be the last. Yet God has stated that only He knows. Our job is not to be obsessed with Mayan calendars or British star maps. God has reserved the difficult task of judgment for Himself. All that is asked of us is that we come to repent. Everything else is but an egotistical distraction.
I feel that Christians are under attack in modern society: the atheist movement claims that we are fools, unwilling to listen to logic and science; with Muslims we face a passionate group of believers and many feel that we are in opposition to one another; an aging population of believers and an inability to attract young people to the church leads us to the point where we are now, desperate and willing to try new methods to gain new believers of Christ. Why have we grown to be so despised? What teachings of Christ are so wicked that we deserve such scorn?
The answer to that question is simple: we DON’T deserve this scorn. In these verses in the book of Titus, Christ’s followers are given simple lists of instructions on how to live faithfully: avoid ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world. OK, simple enough. The verse that really stood out to me, especially when considering our present situation, is the final one.
I was often an unruly child. I would fight with my siblings, talk back to my parents, lie about childish things and be about as imperfect as children are supposed to be as we learn life’s important lessons.
My parents had tried everything to keep my three brothers and me in line; groundings, confiscation of favorite toys, cancelling exciting plans. These acts of discipline often seemed to provide temporary fixes to the problems that a household of boys provided.
One Sunday morning, as we prepared for church, my parents asked my brothers and me if we had cleaned our teeth after breakfast. I wanted 5 more minutes in front of the television so I lied and said I had. My parents knew I wasn’t telling the truth because I hadn’t moved since I crawled out of bed to enjoy weekend cartoons. My mother was furious: “how dare I lie about such a trivial thing?”
But my father stayed calm and enacted wisdom that I will never forget. Instead of shouting or losing his temper, he told me ‘Today you will confess to Pastor Chris. You will tell him that you lied to your parents, fighted with your brothers and made back chat.” Pastor Chris was such a pure, positive and thoughtful man. The thought of him knowing that I misbehaved made me feel a deep sadness. I turned to see Pastor Chris walking in my direction, eyes fixed on me, but he didn’t seem mad. He explained that my parents had told him that I had some confessions to make. I said I was too embarrassed, that I didn’t want to look bad in front of him and God. He laughed and probed me to keep talking.
I said, “You are a kind, patient and friendly person. And God created me, provides for me and keeps me safe.”
He smiled, patted me on the head and said ‘Does that not describe your parents, too?’ and with that, he walked off, leaving me to reflect.
How embarrassed was I that I felt no shame in the way I had behaved for my parents, those who were doing God’s work without a robe or veil?
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of our pastors, ministers and missionaries (and anyone else who also helps keep the gospel of peace).
We have heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Consider what you consume and put into your body on a regular basis: do you think that you treat your body as a temple of the Holy Ghost? I know that I have been guilty of gluttony and have had issues with alcohol that I am not proud of. This life is a gift and we only have one shot. What a shame it is to waste our time and health on weaknesses of the flesh. Sadly, in these modern times, gluttony is literally a deadly sin.We cannot truly understand the ways of the Kingdom. To pretend that we do would be a sinful pride. Jesus has said that we must be like a child, who is ignorant but not arrogant. Just as Jesus accepted the children into His arms, He will also accept us into His Kingdom if we are able to learn from these little ones.
It is easy for us to sit in church and listen to the word and tell ourselves that is enough. But is it actually getting through to us? If we have any actual faith, God tells us it will move us into action. If we are not moved to action, we must reconsider the state of our faith. Even if we have great understanding of the word, if we don’t have faith, we have nothing.
Lord, I pray for the children of Your church. May You bless each one of them and give them a playful and joyous spirit that is outpouring with love, and may we all show these children great love. Let us learn from these young ones and teach them as well, so that they may grow to know that You are the Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ our Savior. My body is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Give me this day my daily bread, and the strength and wisdom to accept only my daily amount. Lord, I pray that You help me to approach all things with moderation, but know that I am a sinner. I want what I cannot have, and that which I do have, I want more of. Hold my hand, loving God, and show me the path towards a healthy and loving relationship with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Lord, light my heart aflame with passion for You. May I always be longing to serve You. Cast away all my laziness and let it be behind me, just as all sin is behind me in Christ. Make me a servant of Your kingdom. Solomon compares a woman who has physical beauty but no wisdom to a gold ring stuck in a pig’s nose. It is a most unfitting sight. It is an irony to see outer beauty where there is no inner beauty of soul. Far too many focus on only outward adornment but neglect to walk in the beauty of holiness with the Lord. Amen Amen.