December 11, 2005

Read Titus 1 -- Philemon 1

In Today's Reading:

The qualifications of church officers; a warning against false teachers; Christian conduct; Paul's appeal for Onesimus

The churches on the island of Crete needed spiritual leadership to function effectively, so Paul instructed Titus to ordain qualified men to fill these positions. Such men were to be blameless (above reproach), the husband of one wife, having faithful (believing) children not accused of riot or unruly (disorderly). For a bishop must be blameless (above reproach), as the steward of God; not selfwilled (overbearing), not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker (not violent), not given to filthy lucre (not greedy for financial gain); But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate (disciplined); Holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine (teaching) both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (opposition) (Titus 1:6-9).

The Church belongs to Christ. His qualifications for spiritual leaders must be followed; man's alternative qualifications are unacceptable to God. Paul's letter to Titus warns that leaders must be blameless in their personal lives.

Paul gave instruction that older men and women should teach the younger men and women, instructing them to forsake evil passions and worldly ambitions, and to live honorably before the Lord. The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldy lusts, we should live soberly (responsibly, honorably), righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity (lawlessness), and purify unto Himself a peculiar (chosen for His own) people, zealous of (hearts set on) good works (2:11-14). Our teaching must be based upon the threefold work of Christ for His people as a result of His atoning death upon the cross (2:14): 1) He set us free — redeemed us from all iniquity; 2) He set us apart — purified to Himself a peculiar people (special possession); 3) He called us to be zealous of good works.

Paul identifies himself simply as a prisoner of Jesus Christ (Philemon 1:1). Although Paul was imprisoned by the Roman Empire, he knew who really had control of his life. In his letter to Philemon he expressed an attitude of gratitude. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints (Philemon 1:4-6).

Word Studies:

Titus 2:10 purloining = stealing small things; Philemon 1:8 enjoin = give direction, order; 1:12 mine own bowels = out of my very heart.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for The Spanish International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts for 12/11-12/25 sponsored by Carol & Ray Espenshade · Government Officials: Sen. Max Baucus (MT) and Sen John Kerry (MA) · Country: Barbados (259,000) on the island farthest east in the West Indies · Major language: English · Religious freedom · 79% Protestant; 8% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Remember that God delights in your joy (Psalm 43:4).

Memory Verse for the Week: 1 Peter 1:23