Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When God Laughs

Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.  Stop being angry!  Turn from your rage!  Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.  For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.  Soon the wicked will disappear.  Though you look for them, they will be gone.  The lowly will possess the land and will live in peace and prosperity.  The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance.  But the Lord just laughs, for he sees their day of judgment coming.  Psalm 37:7-13(NLT)
I know you’ve thought this:  How in the world can he get away with that?   We want to know:  How can God NOT clobber someone with a sharp tongue like hers?  It just seems so unfair and weird that somebody who continually does bad stuff never seems to get what he’s got coming.  And to boot, she seems to be succeeding far above what good people have in their lives; I just don’t get it!
Whenever I find myslef indulging in that kind of thinking I ask myself a more important question:  How come God doesn’t light up my kindling with all the wrong stuff I’ve done?
Well, we could stand here and have a deeply theological debate about alll that for, well, perhaps a millennium or two, and never come up with an answer that will satisfy more than a few people – those who are more likely to agree with us anyway. 
But the simplest answers I’ve ever been able to sleep with are:

#1.  God is patient

The Psalmist said God just laughs at the wicked and all their plots, because He sees their end and there will not be anything that slips past the judgment bar.  If God can relax in the face of evildoers, well…I should also.

#2.  I’m not (and never will be) in charge…God is!

The Psalmist also wrote that our job is as we have in verse 7: 
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Psalm 37:7(NLT)
God has always reserved for Himself the right to vengeance or mercy; frankly, it’s none of our business.  Do you recall how after the resurrection, when Jesus was talking to the disciples on the seashore at the men’s breakfast, the Lord told Peter about some hard things the big fisherman would have to endure.  Peter looked over his shoulder at John and then asked Jesus:  What about him? 
Jesus replied:  Keep your eye on the ball, Peter; John is my business, not yours!
Frankly…I don’t need more instruction than that.  If I’ve got more questions, I think they can wait til Heaven.

For You Today

A good practice is to keep our eyes on what we are doing, and leave supervising evildoers to God.  He’s well-equipped to handle it; we’re not!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i]Title image: By Southbanksteve from London, UK, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, January 30, 2017

Heart's Desire

Monday, January 30, 2017
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.  Psalm 37:4(NLT)
So often I’ve seen this verse’s context so badly distorted I want to find a rooftop and scream:   that’s NOT what it says! 
A Christian, not very mature, but a believer nonetheless, to the pastor with a complaint.  He says:  Pastor, I don’t get it; I’m really happy, I think even delighted in the fact that the Lord wants to give me my heart’s desires.  How come there’s no Cadillac SUV with all the upgrades I want in my driveway.  How come all my problems didn’t go away and why did Donald Trump become president, and not me?
Now, you know that conversation is a little more exaggerated than the one I usually get.  But it acurately displays how wrongly we can get it about our relationship with God.  And more often than not, the problem is that we dwell on the last half of the verse, because that is where the goodies are kept…our heart’s desires!  Let’s face it, when a child runs into the living room on Christmas morning, the first thing he does not include admiring the wrappings –she will not check the window to see if it snowed.  No…a child will run right to the presents under the tree and see how many presents are for me!
And therein we find why the Cadillac does not show up in the Christian’s driveway; we have tried to make God a vending machine…and God rather takes exception to that!
So, what does the verse mean?  How do we interpret it correctly?  The key is in the word delight, which is directly tied to desires.  Both are “heart” words; both are found at the very center of our being.  To “delight” in the Lord is to match our heart’s fondest hopes and dreams (our desires) to what God’s heart loves.
One author said:  we should seek our happiness in God—in his being, his perfections, his friendship, his love.[ii]  In short, it is the relationship with God that should be most important.  When that is so, every bit of true wealth or success will have nothing to do with a Cadillac, but rather experiencing joy, happiness and peace in the Holy Spirit.
Children are an incredible source of wisdom if you pay attention.  I read an article about a survey[iii] given to about ten-thousand children between 7 and 13 years old.  The survey asked the kids to put a list of about 20 items in order from what they wanted most, to what was least important.  There were tangible things like new bicycles and video games.  But there were also intangibles like four hours in the park flying kites with Dad, and a family walk.  Overwhelmingly the children rated everything relational (like a family walk, or a friend’s visit) way above the toys.  In fact, of the entire list of 20, nothing in the top five choices cost a penny!  Sorta makes you wonder why you maxed-out your MasterCard™ to make Christmas “happy”!
Matching your desires to God’s desires for you (which are far better than anything you could dream up anyway) is a sure way to get every desire, simply because you’re willing what He is willing for you. 
How can that combination fail?

For You Today

If you’ve ever wondered about why some of the things you’ve asked for in prayer seem to have been ignored by Heaven, the first place to go looking for answers is what desires you find stored-up in your heart.  Then ask:  Is this where my delight lives?
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i]Title image: By JFXie (Flickr: O Praise Him), via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1999, Parsons Technology, Inc
[iii] The source of the survey is uncertain (not documented), but I believe it was Focus On the Family

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hope - Part 5

Friday, January 27, 2017
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel.  Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
Then the whole assembly raised their voices and answered, “Yes, you are right; we must do as you say!”  Ezra 10:12(NLT)
In the past four days we’ve covered a great deal of ground about the reality of this nation’s – our nation’s disobedience and need of repentance. 
Today is all about finishing the job.
Notice that when Ezra spoke to the people about repenting, taking ownership of their sinful behavior, they didn’t just whisper an Amen?  They didn't say:  We'll form a committee to study this.  They didn't even play the democracy card and offer to vote on it.  What they said was:  This we MUST DO!
In 1923 Belfast, Ireland had a revival under the preaching of W.P. Nicholson.  His messages always called for the need of restitution whenever something had to be put right with another person.  After one series of meetings, a local shipyard had to build another tool room because workers began returning stolen company tools in such volume, they didn't have room for them.
In order for repentance to be genuine, Godly and effective for true revival, it must include putting that right which can be made so.  I caution you that this is a pathway to two things:
One:  The world will think you've gone mad!
Someone has well said:  The world does not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another!  But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!"
Two:  The Lord will know you mean business!
Frankly, in the scheme of things, I'd rather the world think I'm completely bonkers and have the approval of heaven!  Wouldn't you?

What Shall We Do?

Knowledge is responsibility.  There are several things you have heard in these four days which make naiveté and claiming ignorance impossible.  You know that you are responsible for your actions before God.  You know that repentance begins in the heart, and must be followed through with your life or it means nothing.  You also know that there is no person in the room with you, or the world, without sin. 
Where, you say, is the hope in all this?  It is simply in the promise of the Lord that if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways, He will heal us – our land, our families, our children.  It is the promise that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  The hope is trust in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, the question is not what to do, but how, and when we should do what we know is right.  The story is told of a famous rabbi who was walking with some of his disciples.  One of them asked:  Rabbi, when should a man repentThe rabbi calmly replied, You should be sure you repent on the last day of your life
But, protested several of the disciples, we can never be sure which day will be the last day of our life." 
The rabbi smiled and said:  So, when should you repent?
Beloved, hear once again the words of Ezra:
...yet NOW is there hope...

For You Today

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i]Title image: Russell Brownworth (own work)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hope - Part 4

Thursday, January 26, 2017
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel.  Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
Then a proclamation was made throughout Judah and Jerusalem that all the exiles should come to Jerusalem.Those who failed to come within three days would, if the leaders and elders so decided, forfeit all their property and be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.  Ezra 10:7-8(NLT)
We are continuing our look at a nation that got a wakeup call and responded well.  Part of the idea was to come together – to congregate with the sole purpose of honoring God as a nation, to turn their hearts over to their Creator and King.
But, can you imagine the squabble over this bylaw change?  The proclamation was like the church rule that says if you don't come to church we sell your house and car (selling the kids is optional at the discretion of the elders)!  Well, the people did gather!  Amen!
I do not think that it labors the obvious to point out that many of today’s church-gooing people who claim to be born again, and have an affiliation with a church, are simply avoiding the truth that their membership may be on some printed roll somewhere, but that roll is merely a figment of their imagination.  When you manage to make it to the church-house to worship God who is the Sovereign Lord of the universe only on Christmas or Easter because other things are too important…like sleeping-in, going fishing, or because you have to cook for company…well, a reality check reveals that you are more a fan of the idea of being Christian; you’re not really a follower of Jesus.  You are really a visitor, and visitors are welcome at church, but members are expected!
There is a genuine Contriteness in Repentance which God expects of His children:
Within three days, all the people of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. This took place on December 19, and all the people were sitting in the square before the Temple of God.  They were trembling both because of the seriousness of the matter and because it was raining.  Then Ezra the priest stood and said to them:  “You have committed a terrible sin.  By marrying pagan women, you have increased Israel’s guilt.  So now confess your sin to the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do what he demands.  Separate yourselves from the people of the land and from these pagan women.”  Ezra 10:9-11(NLT)
The word "trembling" means a violent shuddering.  This wasn't all because it was cold and raining; the first and foremost reason was the fear of God.  These people had begun to recognize how badly they'd failed the Lord.  This is like being found with your hand in the cookie jar.
When Ezra urged the people to confess your sin to the Lord, the word confess means to raise the hand.  In essence this is one more way of saying, take responsibility for your actions. 
Beloved, spiritual deadness comes as a result of disobedience to God.  It doesn't have to be actions we do – it may be actions left undone.  It may be attitudes buried deep within.  John wrote to the early believers and told them:
If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.  1 John 1.10(NLT)
If the church is to be revived, resuscitated from spiritual deadness, it will be our confession before God and man that we are indeed sinners, in need every day of the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ.

For You Today

If you have hung-in with us sofar, in the past four days we’ve hit some pretty touchy reality checks about our faithfulness.  Tomorrow’s final chapter will be the hardest yet. 
Before you lay your head on the pillow tonight it would be a good thing to pray for an open mind and heart.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i]Title image: Russell Brownworth (own work)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hope - Part 3

Wednesday, January 24, 2017
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel.  Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action.  So Ezra stood up and demanded that the leaders of the priests and the Levites and all the people of Israel swear that they would do as Shecaniah had said.  And they all swore a solemn oath.  Then Ezra left the front of the Temple of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib.  He spent the night there without eating or drinking anything.  He was still in mourning because of the unfaithfulness of the returned exiles.  Ezra 10:4-6(NLT)
So far this week we have seen the failed spiritual condition of Israel, and how the only recourse they had short of God’s hand of judgment was to repent and return to their covenant vows with God.  We in America have also gotten ourselves behind that 8-ball!
Notice that Ezra the leader lost his appetite over the sin of his people.  Fasting is not a practice talked about much any more.  Perhaps it is because we are not a people that deal well with self-denial.  We do not deny ourselves much in this country.  Perhaps that is why God is not blessing America and America's churches.  Over 80% of American churches are plateaued or declining in membership. 
I'm certain you could think of at least as many excuses as I can as to why fasting is old fashioned and outdated.  I only leave you with the thought that perhaps if we put aside our fascination and dependence on material things, even for a little while, God might once again send the showers of blessing – who knows? 
But, somehow the message of repentance got through to the people.  Shechaniah urged Ezra to follow through with helping the people to know how to repent.  The fact is, beloved, it is not enough for us to look at the terrible conditions in America, conditions of our own sinfulness, and shake our heads, cluck our tongues, even shed some tears. 
It isn't enough. 
There comes a time when we must get up.  There must be a time of arising from the ashes of our spiritual nonsense and get busy doing repentance.
Years ago I served a church that used to be known as Phoenix Baptist Church because it was located on Phoenix Ave.  Part of our prayers often were that we would be like the ancient mythical bird, the phoenix, that arose out of its own ashes to a new life.  It is corporate repentance and corporate returning to the covenant with God that can make a person, or a church, or a nation spiritually alive again. 
Together, hand in hand we must weep for our own sins, and the sins of our nation, and the blindness of this generation. 
Together we ought to fill altars with knees and tears. 
Together we ought to cry out to Almighty God for forgiveness. 
Together we must repent and confess our sins one to another, if we expect God to do anything with this sin-sick land in which we dwell.

For You Today

When is the last time you saw an altar filled with church members praying?
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i]Title image: Russell Brownworth (own work)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hope - Part 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel.  Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God.  Let it be done according to the Law.  Ezra 10:3(NLT)
Yesterday we considered the state of our culture in the world generally, and particularly in the U.S..  Spiritually-speaking, that state is in a condition much like the patient that is comatose, not breathing and running out of time.  Before long it will be impossible for anything to be done.  The judgment of death will be final. 
The only possible move is repentance – a complete 180° retreat from our attitudes of self-sufficiency and godlessness, and turning towards God in obedience and holiness.
As a nation, Israel did that, repenting of their selfish and sinful ways.  It was time to make (or rather renew) their covenant promises given to them by God centuries before at the base of Mt Sinai. 
In order to repent and return to your covenant vows with God you need to recognize just how serious sin is in God's eyes.  There is no such thing as a little sin.  Today we minimalize the impact sin has to our overly-sensitive ears.  Teenage children in our churches (over 50%) are not fornicators any more – they're simply sexually active.  Adulterers have affairs, and pornographers are sufferers of sexual addiction.  Everybody's a victim – nobody's guilty of sin.
In a broadcast about 20 years ago, Chuck Swindoll said, 'That's nonsense!  Any wrong thing I do, it is my sin, my responsibility – 100%.  Any sin you do is first degree.  It is your responsibility, your wrong before God. 
We need to stop seeing ourselves as victims and begin to take responsibility for our covenant with God. 
Sometimes that takes a rebuke in the right place.  I have been caught-up short a number of times in my life – at the right time – and it made all the difference in my attitude and growth in walking with Christ.  A rebuke, for a Christian believer, is nothing more than a reminder of their covenant with God.
Our nation needs that.  Abraham was the recipient of God’s favor and blessing as a covenant promise to him and his posterity.  But he had to be reminded often when he wandered from the center of his promises and God’s will.  In the same way, America cannot stand in the wake of flagrant, arrogant willfulness, ignoring the God who gifted us with this precious and magnificent land. 
Our prayer (and actions) should be that the pulpits and pews of America be filled and aflame just as much (and more) now with righteousness, as they were in the days of the formation of this nation.  Absent of that I do not know of any moral or consequential reason for God to allow this nation to endure!

For You Today

Hear this, America…return to your God while there is still hope!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i]Title image: Russell Brownworth (own work)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hope - Part 1

Monday, January 23, 2017
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel.  Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
I couldn’t begin to estimate the number of times I’ve watched a TV episode where a person on a gurney in a hospital, or at an accident scene, ceased to breathe, and the doctor or the heroic EMS calls for the paddles, yells Charging, bellows Clear, then takes the paddle-like electrodes, places them on the patient's chest, pulls the trigger, and POW! – the body lifts off the table like a space shuttle.  In a moment you hear:  got a heartbeat.  A life is restored; death is cheated; they call it revival!
Revival is only needed when death is detected.  It is so in the spiritual world, as the natural world – deadness is the opposite of life.  Ezra detected the spiritual deadness of God's people.  Years before Jeremiah and Ezekiel had pleaded with God's people to get right with the Lord.  All the pleading was to no avail.  The people fell in deadness spiritually; they were carried away physically into Babylon (Iraq).  Later it happened again with the Persians (Iran). 
In every case it was a matter of spiritual deadness.  The people of God paid only cursory attention to serving their God.  They kept the rituals going, but the sap of vital worship had long ago dried up in God's vineyard.  Later Jesus encountered the same conditions and remembered the prophet Ezekiel when he mourned a wayward people:
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Matthew 15:8(NLT)
The captivities had the desired effect.  With the loosening of political ties, the reform of Nehemiah made it easier for some of the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of the city, and the temple of God. 
Under Nehemiah's leadership the people responded with enthusiasm in the rebuilding of Zion’s walls.  However, the work stopped; they could go no further because spiritual deadness had (once again) set-in. 
Ezra was of the priestly line of Aaron. When he arrived on the scene, he surveyed what had happened during the reclaiming of the land.  As an expediency, the men had taken wives of the pagan cultures.  It was easier to get the land back when you were married into the family.  In their desire to hasten along the project of reclamation, the people of God had adopted the world's ways.  In their hope of returning to greatness as the people of God, they had sinned greatly against the very One they were supposed to serve.
There is a parallel today in the land of one nation under God.  Having been birthed in the cradle of Christian righteousness, our beloved America has become Godless.  We've gone from one nation under the blessing of God, to the politically correct, atheist-acknowledging nation under the judgment of God.  We are no better than ancient Israel.  They married women to gain back the lands they thought was their spiritual heritage.  We've sold our spiritual heritage to be at one with the world.  They (at least) thought they were doing right – we know, and don’t seem to care, that what we're doing is wrong! 
The church in America is becoming little more than a collection of social clubs where people can gather in support groups, where our lack of responsibility for sin can be affirmed, and we can all claim victim status.  Lost is the weeping, genuine mourning and confessing of sin.  And as a result of our sin, we are reaping an incredible whirlwind of death. 
Like the patient who died on the gurney there is a resuscitation needed in America's churches – a revival from the deadness of religion that comes no closer to the hem of God's garment than a child with a crayon competes with a computer.
How shall we be revived from the spiritual deadness?  Look to the revival of Ezra:
But in spite of this there is still hope for Israel.  Ezra 10:2b(NLT)
The hope for America starts with the church, AND the repentance God calls for in any age.  What is repentance?  It is more than just the weeping of Ezra and the people.  It is in turning from our sins (2 Chronicles 7.14).  Donald Grey Barnhouse tells of the Sunday School teacher who asked her class what was meant by the word repentance.  A little boy put up his hand and said, It is being sorry for your sins.  A little girl also raised her hand and said, It is being sorry enough to quit.
In our understanding, repentance is simply taking responsibility for your own actions.  Repentance is like the two electrodes of the defibrillator machine the doctor uses to shock the heart back to life.  One paddle is your Godly sorrow for sin; the other paddle is your promise to God to quit those sins with His help.

Is it too late for America? 

Have we gone too far?  Is there hope?  Yes, there is definitely hope, and that hope has a name - Jesus
While there is life and breath there is hope.  A visitor at a fishing dock asked an old fisherman who was sitting there:  If I were to fall into this water, would I drown?  The old salt sighed a bit then replied: 
Nope – fallin' in the water don't drown nobody; it's stayin' there what drowns ya.

For You Today

Over the next week or so we will look at using the resuscitation paddles on what’s left of the corpse of America’s churches.  Now that may be a graphic and not-too-pretty thought this morning, but it’s better than the alternative of what comes after a few nights in the hospital morgue! 
There is yet hope for America, and it lies within the churches’ response to her Lord to bring that hope to the surface.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title image: Russell Brownworth (own work)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Superior Senior Saints

 As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching.  Titus 2:1(NLT)  
Largely, the world says to discard senior adults.  Our nation is particularly curious....we ask the young to come up with the solutions to life's most perplexing problems of environment, government and family, while we tell the retired to go out and play
But God's Word has a different message.  The apostle Paul had left Titus on the isle of Crete in order to watch over the new church.  As any church experiences, there were problems to overcome.  
Paul’s main reason for writing to Titus was to advise him to deal with those false teachers and the greedy charlatans who had infiltrated the church in order to fill their pockets with the offerings. 
To whom does he direct that Titus should appeal for stability, correction and leadership?  He goes right to the most dependable and proven group - the super seniors
Paul tells Titus to remind the senior group of sound doctrine(v.1).  The word means literally health-giving doctrine.  The doctrines that are healthful to build up the individual, build up the family and church.
Although Paul's letter is addressed first to seniors, and this is Senior Adult Day, all the apprentice seniors can also benefit by the message here, because Paul lays down spiritual principles which transcend age. 
The principle is:  A great work is neither young, nor old; it is relevant! 
The principles contained in the next 6 verses relate to genuine Christian living which exhibits wisdom and maturity of obedient Christians. 
Just like Paul told Timothy to ignore those who had an attitude about his leadership because he was young, this principle works in reverse....Let no one despise your seniority.  You be the example God called you to be at whatever decade of life in which you’re now walking!
Let’s look at the CHARACTERISTICS of believers who are being obedient to the high calling of Christ, who just happen to be super seniors.


Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely.  They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.  Titus 2:2(NLT)
Paul says that the senior man ought to be sober and grave.  Sounds like a fun fella.  Actually the words indicate a man who is serious about his commitment to serve Christ.  But it doesn’t mean we have to look like we just ate a pickle.  In fact a Christian who is always morose and gloomy is really a living contradiction.  The person who has Christ on the inside has plenty to be happy and joyful about on the outside. 
The word Paul uses indicates an undiluted character...no variation between what is stated as belief, and what takes place as behavior.  In short, we practice what we preach! 
Self-controlled person is one who has learned to rule over his passions and desires.  Self-control:  the ability to say no, when saying no now means things will be better in the long run.  Diets are like that!   
Three more words appear in verse 2:  faith, love and patience.  These appear often in the writings of Paul.
Faith is two-fold:  First there is THE faith, the doctrine of God we hold as true.  We pass THE faith along.  But there is also faith as verb...the faith we live.  A senior Christian man is to be sound or healthful in faith.  It should be a living, active faith. 
Love is that agape' love.  It's the unselfish God-love that exists to strengthen others, to undergird the growth of the weak, to seek the highest good for others. 
I have known some really superior senior adult men who love like that.  And they are really beautiful.  One of them was my Sunday School teacher 55 years ago.  Uncle Sid is around 90 years old now.  When he retired it was only from the job that paid money.  Now he spends more time than ever tightening all the loose bolts and door handles at the church.  He spends time helping out at the youth camp, and witnessing with the local Gideon's chapter.  Uncle Sid is a humble man...God's superior senior! 
How does that happen?  Someone wisely put it this way:  You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen.  But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your own soul's doing.
"Patience" is that quality better described as cheerful endurance.  I have been advised never to pray for patience because it brings tribulation.  While that may be true, it is that cheerful endurance that is the mark of the mature Christian who is ready to help, knowing that helping costs!  Patience will involve sacrifice, but it is necessary for the growth of others. 
During seminary days for the Brownworth family, there were times when it was patience, that cheerful endurance, which caused the Senior Men's Sunday School class at our home church to love us through some dark times.  Several times their prayers and financial gifts made the difference between discouragement and the strength to go on.  What cheerful encouragement they were to us. 


Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.  They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.  Instead, they should teach others what is good.  Titus 2:3(NLT)
One of the pastors of the first century wrote that the Christian must live as if all of life was a sacred assembly.  The word Paul uses which we have translated living in a way that honors God is a compound word that literally means to call to sacredness.  This is to be the characteristic of the life of a senior Christian lady.  She is not to be a false accuser, a gossip!  The word in Greek is diablos, from which we translate devil.  The corresponding Hebrew word is Shawtan from which we translate Satan.   Enough said!
Not being a ‘heavy drinker’ is the same admonition given to ministers.  Ladies, you may drink as much as the pastor.  Seriously, the implication is like that of temperance...restraint in the natural appetites, so that the spiritual life can flourish. 
To give place to fleshly- desire is to plan to sin.  The high calling of the senior Christian lady in Jesus Christ is to be well-disciplined in Christlikeness. 
In the final words of this text Paul describes the role of superior senior saints in teaching the next generation:
These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.  Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.  In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely.  And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind.  Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.  Titus 2:4-7(NLT)
In these verses there is one Greek word that is translated as 3 different English words....train, encourage, and example, all have the same root word in the original.  The meaning of that root word is to be safe in mind....sane....sound
The implication for the importance of teaching that superior senior saints must do, is that they are to build sanity and maturity in those they teach.  What a noble and necessary calling in a world filled with madness, insecurity and darkness. 
This then is the reason that Paul turned to the seniors as he detailed instructions to Titus: 

Christian role models are sorely needed. 

·       Do we not have enough role models in Hollywood to teach us selfishness and hedonistic humanism? 
·       Are there not enough prideful ambitious politicians in Washington to teach us success at any cost? 
Mankind has a nature, and that nature demands that we worship and follow after something.  It is my message to senior adult Christian men and women today that young people, and middle aged, and even your peers will latch on to something to follow.  It is time for the gray head of wisdom to lead by example, giving the younger generations something of substance and eternal value to hold on to.  They must see it, sense it, and touch its' reality. 
Senior adults are the kind of people that can have great influence for Jesus Christ.  Perhaps today, as we have centered our thoughts on the high calling of Christ to senior Christian men and women, you sense the calling of God to be more of a positive influence, a witness for Him. 
Let me encourage you to respond to that call.  God wants to make you a Superior Senior Saint!
Go to Worship Service VIDEO   
            Mt Zion UMC           Pleasant Hill UMC

[i] Title image:  By Weglinde/Gordon Lawson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons