Titus 1.2 – The Chance

Lots of people build their lives on lots of things, don’t they. Career success, providing things for their children, financial acquisitions, property purchases, the pursuit of pleasure…None of these things, inherently, are bad. In fact, there is a degree to which all of them are good. But, are they firm enough to build a whole life on? Are we really in control of any of them? Today, Paul writes to Titus and sets forth what he is basing his hope, his ministry, and his life on.

…in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…

Titus 1.2

Did you see what Paul is hoping for, anticipating, and expecting? Did you see on what Paul is building and basing his life?

…in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…

Paul is writing to Titus to instruct and to encourage and in the hope of eternal life. So, what he is going to teach and share as his letter continues has further-reaching consequences than the here and now. How can Paul be so sure that this is the case?

…in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

What Paul is standing on for present empowerment and future fulfilment is something that was promised before the ages began, something that was spoken forth by Someone who never lies.

This same promise, this same hope of eternal life is available to you today and every day. As I recently read, this is not based on wishful thinking, broad brushstrokes like ‘Good people go to heaven‘, or ‘If you’re sincere, that is enough‘, this hope of eternal life is based on thousands of years of demonstrable history, hundreds of recorded evidences and examples of its truth, a tangible benefit to society that many often forget (see ‘Dominion’ by Tom Holland), and the changed lives of millions.

God, who never lies, has laid out before you the chance to choose the hope of eternal life. God, who never lies, has given you the chance to radically change your life and have it extend into eternity. 

Have you taken that chance?

…into your hands…

Today’s Last Word is, literally, the last word spoken on the cross.

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23.46

We have seen that right until the very end, Jesus was others-focused (John 19.27), and here we see that until the very end Jesus was prayer-focused, focused on communing and communicating with the Father.

The work being done, Jesus rested in the hands of the Father. Nobody took His life from His, He laid it down for you. He trusted and rested in the hands of the Father as He laid down His life willingly. Knowing His body was to be laid aside, Jesus committed His spirit to the Father in one final act of trust and obedience and communion.

Perhaps this is the most poignant Easter week since the original. The world looks like it is falling apart, doesn’t it. Everything that people had stood on for stability, built on for prosperity, or clung to for identity is just melting away before their very eyes. This produces in people an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress.

Contrast this to the last word of Jesus during His earthly incarnational life and ministry, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” and we are presented with a polar-opposite choice to make; are we going to try and work our way out of this pandemic, trying to rebuild everything with our own commitment and convictions, or are we going to commit ourselves to a known, personal, loving God who has a proven track record of taking what is broken and restoring it to life?

If you have never done so, there is never a better time to echo the last word of Jesus and pray “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit, my whole life, take it and use it as you will, for your glory.”

Yes I Will

John Piper wrote this about worship,

“This is the final end of all existence: the worship of God.

God created the universe so that it would display the worth of his glory. And he created us so that we would see this glory and reflect it by knowing and loving it — with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.”

In Revelation 22.9 John receives the simple command, “Worship God!

Elsewhere in God’s Word to us we are told we are created for His glory (Isaiah 43.7). We are made in His image (Genesis 1.27), to display His glory, for His glory, to bring Him glory. Paul writing to the Corinthians says that whatever we do, we are to do it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10.31).

So far, then, we can say it is in our DNA to worship God, it comes naturally, it’s the natural thing to do. 

But some days, in some experiences, in some seasons of life, do we really want to? It doesn’t feel like the natural thing to do, does it? This is where we need to be so careful; if we live our faith life based on feelings, when those feelings aren’t there, is our faith not there too?

Does God not still deserve the glory due Him?

Is our fundamental purpose as people not present because we don’t have a certain feeling?

Worship of God is natural to us,

but it is also a choice we need to make.

We are not robots; robots made to worship, worship-bots if you will, we are made with the wonderful gift of free will. 

So worship comes natural to us, worship is natural, but worship is also a choice. It’s an attitude, it’s a perspective, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a choice. 

Maybe you have heard a song with lyrics that communicate this truth beautifully well;

Yes I will, lift You high in the lowest valley

Yes I will, bless Your name

Oh, yes I will, sing for joy when my heart is heavy

All my days, oh yes I will

And I choose to praise
To glorify, glorify
The Name of all names
That nothing can stand against

Even when life is difficult, God is working it out for you.

Even when we don’t particularly feel like worshiping God, we must still choose to praise Him.

Even when we don’t think we need to, we must give Him what is rightfully His, fulfil our most fundamental purpose. 

He is never late, always on time, with us all the time, good or bad. He is still there despite our perceived lack of feeling it and for this we can worship Him, glorify Him, trust Him.

See, worship comes naturally, but it is also a choice. When we take to heart the truth of the Word of God, when we put hope, faith, and trust in the name and work of Jesus, when we submit and commit to the Lord, worship becomes the natural choice in all situations. 

Take four minutes now and listen to this, as loud as your current surroundings allow…then have a great day, choosing to praise and glorify God!

Amos 6.8-14 – Can we escape?

I read a story about those escape rooms, the live action puzzles where you are locked inside a room and you need to follow clues to get out, like this one…

The story goes that a new escape room was opened and the staff left a complete walkthrough cheat-sheet in the room by mistake. It had all the details of where things were hidden, the significance of objects in the room, things to do, things not to do, and ultimately how to escape was written at the bottom. The players entered the room, found the paper, read it, but then didn’t do what was on it…and ultimately didn’t escape the room. 

Today in Amos we see something similar. God has given His people all they need to know, yet they still persist in their prideful, selfish ways (v.8). Pride is, simply, never good (1 Peter 5.5, James 4.6, Proverbs 3.34).

The people seem to think that they will be able to escape the coming judgement (a constant theme of the book), but we know that God has decreed that whether strong or weak, big or small, mighty or insignificant, all that transgresses His Word will be judged accordingly (vv.9-11). 

Amos then gives proof that no sinner has the right to think that they will escape the coming judgement of our Lord if they are not living the way they should be (vv.12-14). We can’t expect good results when we are living so contrary to the Word of God, in the same way a thoroughbred champion racehorse would not run as well on rocks, or in the same way oxen would not plow productively on those same rocks (v.12).

For us, we need to realise that no matter who we are, where we are from, we are only able to live right and only able to be in right relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus.

As Hebrews 2 tells us, we must not neglect this great and wonderful salvation, but we must live our lives based on it. The people Amos writes about knew what to do, had it all written down, but chose not to follow it and thought that it would work out well regardless.

Rather than trust in the misguided thought that, well, God is basically all good so we can do as we wish and then expect Him to bless us because He is good, and God is love, right? Rather than work to this way of thinking we need to follow the principle of Micah 6.8, and, if we do, we are more than able to escape the coming judgement.

He has told you,

O man, what is good;

and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice,

and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?

Revelation 21.1-8 – Replace don’t renew

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said,

“Behold, I am making all things new.”

Also he said,

“Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6 And he said to me,

“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

We own a car that is pretty old and beat up, it’s done almost enough kilometres to get to the moon and it is falling apart, literally…there are pieces missing on the inside, there are pieces falling off the outside, and it usually takes two or three ‘encouragements’ to start. We have reached the point where this car is not going to sell for any real sum of money (plus, morally how can we sell a car we know is falling apart), so for now, it’s our big old tank. It’s still big and safe, and we can strap the boys in with a clear conscience. But, it will never sell, we can never renew it to be like it ever was because it is so old, so beat up, so broken (in parts) that when it drives its last KM we will need to find a new car rather than renew the old one.

This is exactly what we see here, or what John saw here and was commanded to write; it must have been pretty cool as he evidently was so overawed that he stopped writing, Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We read of new heaven and a new earth, and the original language guides our understanding of this to mean something fresh, not a renewal of existing thing, or just the next in line. We are replacing old with new, not renovating or simply looking at the already-prepared next earth, no, this is a fresh, new thing! Bible commentator David Guzik puts it this way,

“The ancient Greek word translated new here means “new in character, ‘fresh’.” It doesn’t mean…new in time.” This isn’t just the next heaven and the next earth; this is the better heaven and better earth replacing the old.”

This new heaven and new earth are characterised by what is missing; death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”, and by what is now available; Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God…To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment…

So the first heaven and the first earth will pass away, making way for a fresh, new, better heaven and earth. If we choose self over Christ we will never experience this, shown by the list at the end of this passage in v.8, but if we choose Christ over self each and every day He tells us that we will.

Randy Alcorn puts it this way,

“Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loved us so much that he left the riches of heaven to become a man and deliver us from our sin.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16).”

So, decision time, are we going to experience the new heaven and new earth? Are we going to experience the special relationship of “I will be his God and he will be my son”? Are we going to experience the fresh, new, better life that Jesus died to provide?

Pause, think, and pray; is there anything in my life that needs to be replaced with the fresh, new, and better life that Jesus died to provide?

Is there anything in my life that is preventing me from having my eternal destination be as a child of God in His presence?

If there is, it is time to replace those things.