Monday, July 25, 2016, 3:05 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Titus 3:1-8 (ESV). Be Gentle (vv. 1-2) Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. The word “submission” means “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person” (Google). We are to obey those in authority over us unless those authorities require that we disobey God and his Word. Where it says here, in this translation, that we are to speak evil of no one, the word translated as “speak evil” means “to blaspheme” or “to slander.” It means “to speak lightly or profanely of sacred things,” or “to speak evil against,” or “to use abusive or scurrilous language about (God or men)” (biblehub.com). It means “to speak irreverently about God or sacred things” (Google); to swear or to curse.” The word translated as “no one” can also be translated as “nothing,” which fits with the context of speaking “lightly or profanely of sacred things.” If we slander someone, we make willful false statements against that person in order to damage that person’s reputation. So, we should not be engaged in speaking irreverently or lightly about what is sacred (of God or about God), or in using abusive language about God or humans, nor should we swear at or curse people or willfully lie about someone in order to destroy that person’s reputation. Yet, we are to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, and confront evil, and warn others of false shepherds, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so that others are not deceived, and so that they do not fall into the devil’s trap. There is a difference between quarreling and discussing or debating a subject. Quarreling usually gets heated, and angry and unkind words are generally exchanged between people. Yet, this does not mean we can never disagree with another person or that we can’t have a friendly discussion on topics where we may have differences of beliefs or opinions. Paul debated often with people, trying to convince them of the truth. Sometimes we need to look honestly at different sides of issues and prayerfully consider whether or not we are on the right side, or whether or not we need to change our thinking. But, we can do this respectfully, kindly and thoughtfully without fighting and without getting nasty. To be gentle means to be “forbearing, fair, reasonable” (biblehub.com), and this is how we need to treat one another, especially when we have differences of beliefs or opinions. Once Foolish (v. 3) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. The Bible says that all of us have sinned, and we have all come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). It says that there is no one righteous, not even one. We have all gone astray. If we say we have not sinned, we are liars. Outside of faith in Jesus Christ we are all lost, without hope, and destined to spend eternity in the fires of hell (or the lake of fire). It is only by God’s grace to us that any of us are saved and that we are made righteous in God’s sight, so this is why we should be “forbearing, fair, and reasonable” with others because we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient and led astray. This, in no way, means we should placate sin, or that we should tolerate sin in our own lives or in the lives of others, but that we should demonstrate love and compassion towards those who do sin, and we should lovingly and gently (reasonably) lead them to the knowledge of the truth. By His Grace (vv. 4-7) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Again, it is only by God’s grace that any of us are made righteous with God. Even the faith to believe in Jesus Christ comes from God. Not one of us can affect our own salvation. We can never be good enough nor can we do anything to earn our own salvation. Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad deeds. So, we have no bragging rights. Instead, we should be humbled that God would save us, and that Jesus would love us enough to give his life up for us, and that our Lord would forgive us of all that we have done wrong. I know that I am so thankful for God’s grace to me and for his forgiveness of my sins. Because of God’s grace to us, and due to Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, in which he put sin to death, when we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died, too, “to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Tit. 2:14). Because Jesus died on a cross for our sins, in order to put sin to death, we can be delivered out of slavery to sin and can become slaves of his righteousness. Good Works (v. 8) The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. We are not saved by “good works,” but “good works” are part of what we are saved for. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). These “good works,” nonetheless, are not fleshly works or things we think up (create) in our own minds and decide of our own human will that we should do for God. These are “good works” which God prepared beforehand that we should do; that we should walk in them, which has to do with our lifestyle. So, if we want to know what good works God prepared beforehand that we should do, then we need to inquire of him as to what those are, and then we should do them. They should become part of who we are, i.e. a part of our everyday lives. In all that we do we should be humble, submissive, obedient, kind to others, thoughtful, considerate, honest, and trustworthy. We must live holy lives, pleasing to God. We ought to consider that our lives are not our own, to be lived how we want, for we were bought back for God with the price of Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross for our sins. Therefore, we should honor God with our lives in all that we do, and are, and think, and say. Let it be so! Amen! Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012 I come before You, Lord, my Savior, With humble heart and crushed in spirit. I bow before You, I implore You, Heal my broken heart, I pray. Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master, You are the King of my heart. Lord, purify my heart within me; Sanctify me, whole within. Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit. I pray You give me grace and mercy, Strength and wisdom to obey. Father God, my heart’s desire, Won’t You set my heart on fire? Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders My walk with You, now I pray. Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy, My heart cries out for understanding. I want to follow You in all ways, Never straying from Your truth. Holy Spirit, come in power, Fill me with Your love today. Lord, mold and make me; Your hands formed me; Live Your life through me, I pray.