Titus 1.1 – What’s On Your Business Card?

As with the custom at the time, Paul begins his letter to Titus (and the wider Christian body in Crete) with his name and his introduction. He writes,

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Titus 1.1-4

If we look at the first few words again, Paul introduces himself as

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ

I love how David Guzik refers to this in his EnduringWord Commentary. He writes that this is, in essence, Paul’s ‘business card‘. This is how Paul introduces himself, this is how he wants to be known.

He leaves out his Jewish family credentials, his educational knowledge, his church planting and evangelistic prowess and humbly introduces himself as a slave of God by choice and a messenger of Jesus.

I wonder, if we all had to design and title our own business cards, what would we write on there?

Would we include all of our worldly achievements, our professional qualifications, our personal highlights and highs? 

What we would choose to write on there would give others a glimpse into how we see ourselves. Do we find fulfilment in being a follower of Jesus first and foremost? Do we see ourselves as carrying the major purpose of glorifying God, carrying the name of Jesus follower, and being Spirit filled and led?

Today, take a moment to think on this; Paul saw himself first in relation to God. How do you see yourself? 

Spiritual Depression – Fear Of The Future

We are all born different, aren’t we. It is one way we see the wondrous workings of God; all made differently yet able to be so unified in belief, thought, action, heart, and mind. When we think of the future, some are excited, some are worried, some are paralysed with fear, some are confused, so, what do we do?

Importantly, we need to distinguish between thinking about the future well, and worrying about the future unnecessarily. Lloyd-Jones writes that there is a difference between ‘legitimate forethought and paralysing forethought‘. One allows a farmer to plow the field and sow his seed, the other can lead us to a paralysed present because of what-if worries. 

We have talked before about leaving the past in the past, but also just as true is worrying about a future we cannot control. Many times in Scripture we see this idea of ‘think about today, today, and let tomorrow be tomorrow‘ (Matthew 6.25-34 for example). 

When fear of the future strikes us, which it inevitably does despite the varied makeups of our character including those who seem to be unruffled and steadfastly sure, where do we look?

“…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1.7

The Spirit of power is that which raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8.11), and this power now indwells you as a fully regenerate born-again believer. Now, this is not to say you can go around resurrecting people, but, this needs to be a constant reminder that we give ourselves – the Holy Spirit lives in me, God has given me a spirit not of fear, but of power.

When we are tempted to worry about an unknown future, we must commit our unknown future to a known God as Corrie Ten Boom said. The Spirit of love allows us to know that we are loved by God Most High, that we take the focus off self-love, self-care, self-protection and rest in the fact that the Spirit of love surrounds us, cares for us, and will protect us even from ourselves.

The Spirit of self-control gives us, seemingly miraculously for some, the ability to soak in God’s Word, to understand the timeless truths therein, and to internalise this so deeply that when troubles come, when trials cross our paths, we have a mind that is so saturated with the Word and the truths of God that we can maintain control and not veer off into unnecessary future worry.   

“…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1.7

Lloyd-Jones closes the discussion on future fears like this,

…to those who are particularly prone to spiritual depression through…fear of the future, I say in the Name of God…talk to yourself, remind yourself of what is true…remind yourself of who you are and what you are, and of what Spirit is within you…and you will be able to go steadily forward, fearing nothing, living in the present, ready for the future, with one desire only, to glorify Him who gave His all for you.

The power of the voice of God

Think back to when you were at school…there was always that one teacher with such a commanding voice, wasn’t there…perhaps it was the principal, maybe an experienced classroom warrior who had been stalking the corridors for decades, maybe a P.E. teacher who could be heard in the next town, or a home economics teacher who could cook food by shouting at it…whoever it was, there was someone in the school with such a powerful voice that when you heard it you straightened up, fixed your tie, walked with head down, sat up straight in class, moved pen along paper even if nothing was being written…there was just someone with such a powerful and commanding voice!

Grab your Bible (or open your Bible app, although this will work better with a paper Bible, trust me), and turn to page 1; Genesis 1, the creation account. Something we all miss is that in v.2, there is the Holy Spirit! Most often when asked when the Spirit makes His first appearance, we might say in Acts, maybe in the Gospels, but there He is;

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Anyway, fascinating as that is, that is not what we are talking about today!

Take a pen or a highlighter, and underline or highlight the first three words of vv.3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, and 26…what do we see?

And God said…Then God said…

The power of the voice of God is immeasurable, incomprehensible, and incomparable. 

God speaks and it happens.

Let there be light“, “Let there be an expanse…“, “Let the…Let us…Let there be…“, and it happens.

What power is in the voice of God! 

Consitent with the trinitarian nature of our God – three in one – this amazing, awe-inspiring power of voice is also seen in Jesus and the Holy Spirit;

Jesus calls people to life, literally, with His voice in John 5.25 and, 11.43, and the Holy Spirit brings forth knowledge to our minds and mouths that was previously unknown when it is needed most in Matthew 10.19-20.

Today, then, listen for the voice of God; our God is active and involved in His creation and by the power of His Word it is being upheld. So listen for the voice of God, of Jesus, of the Holy Spirit then, like a model student at school, pay attention and put it into action!

Revelation 13.11-18 – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

Previously we saw the Antichrist come and speak against all God stands for, and make war on the saints. Now the unholy trinity is complete with the arrival of the false prophet. His job is to make the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, and by supernatural, hyper charismatic signs (2 Thessalonians 2.3-4) he gives breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. He performs signs and wonders and turns people’s attention to the first beast, the Antichrist, but ultimately both first beast and second beast, and the dragon for that matter, are second-rate, evil impersonators of what is good, pure, just, holy, and upright.

For example, they mimic the structure of the Holy Trinity; Father, Son, Holy Spirit through dragon, first beast, second beast. They mimic the sealing of the saints we read of in 7.3-4,

‘”Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:’

So far, nothing original, simply pretending to be just like the triune God in order to turn people away from Him.

This is how cults start, they borrow from truth just enough to gain credibility and traction, then take a weird turn somewhere down the orthodox highway into heresy town.

When I was in high school there was a popular band named the Arctic Monkeys, maybe you’ve heard of them. Their debut album which was everywhere at the time was called Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not…

This is absolutely the case with our pretenders in this section;

They say they have healed mortal wounds (resurrection), but they did not.

They say they are worthy to be worshiped, they are not.

They claim they are omnipotent, they are not.

They claim to be great conquerors, they are not.

They claim authority over people’s everyday lives, they don’t have this.

We could get lost in conjecture about the number 666, the theories are as baffling as they are plentiful, but the main point here is that this unholy trinity doesn’t even come close to comparing to the true resurrecting power, the right worship, the omnipotence, the all conquering, the Sovereign triune God of the Bible, our great and awesome God.

For us, we need to stay focused on the real deal, not an imitator. One really simple step is to consider 1 John 4.1-3,

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.’

So, things look good, sound good, look ‘spiritual’, fill you with awe…stop…pause…and think, does this confess Jesus? Otherwise, what it says it is, it is not.