Bible Study: Looking at Titus 1

Note from Michael and Josh: Whilst we still intend to cover some of the big contemporary issues of the day; we are looking to populate the blog with a series of more regular shorter updates of Bible passages that speak to us, snapshots of our day-to-day lives, quotes and other juicy titbits that might be of benefit to our readers.

At my Church, a few men are meeting with two aims: (1) to study the word; and (2) to socialise, to get to know each other better. In our Bible readings we are learning about Titus and about doing good. Today, I want to briefly talk about the qualities of being an ‘elder’.

Titus 1:5-9: just for elders?

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:5-9).

Great passage is it not? But do we read this and think this is only for elders in the church? Do we by pass it because we think it is not relevant for us? Whether you’re male, female, elder, deacon, new believer, old believer, this passage should be speaking to us.

First we must consider the context, Paul is writing these qualities, because the church there is struggling with what is going on around it, the church needed elders who would direct the church to be Holy and upright in the sight of the world and God. The church was in such a state, that Paul starts the rebuilding process from the top.
But does this mean that these qualities are only for the elders? No, these are qualities every believer needs be striving for. We all need to be self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined, and Paul speaks to us directly. If we expect these qualities of other men, why shouldn’t we expect it of ourselves? Elders need to be wise, they do need to know their doctrine and they need to lead, and it is a calling, but we are all called to take a role in our local church, in ministry, and we all should reflect Christ, which these qualities do.

A word, that we perhaps overlook in this passage is ‘hospitable’ and it is a word that crops up quite a few times in the New testament. As Christians, we should be hospitable, kind, caring, helping others, putting others first, loving and generous; we should indeed love what is good. I don’t know about you, but it can sometimes be hard to do such things. Hard to love those who hate you, kind to others even on a bad day, hospitable to those around you, the list goes on, and I think, if we believe that God works in us, then we must strive to do good, to LOVE to do what is good, and not do it because it is a ‘command’.

Sometimes we may think some passages are not relevant to us, but they are, and they are so important to look at and read and study. The church where Titus was located reflected the world, in its attitude (not in its equipment or technology), Paul writes the letter to tell the church to wake up, to reflect Christ, not what is around it, to have different attitudes and values, to love what is good.

May we all have self-control, to be upright and holy, and be disciplined in all matters of our life, in our private times and when we doing things in public. Paul knows that the world would watch the elders of the church, the world watches you, so listen to his words and learn from them.

Be Blessed

Michael

Music As A Form Of Worship

The phrase ‘Let us start worship’ or ‘Let us begin worship’ is one that never sits easy with me. The term ‘Worship Leader’ for me doesn’t seem to be a biblical principal. In this post, I am to pick apart these terms and phrases and suggest what I believe we should be actually doing instead.

Is Worship something we turn on?

I do hope that no church flicks a switch and suddenly they are in ‘worship’ mode, I would be extremely concerned if it did! In my interpretation, worship is something that we are, we are made to worship. It is also not just solely music and singing, as we can sometimes think; in fact music is just a small part of what worship is all about.

So can we just turn it on with a flick of a switch? No! We don’t start worship, and we don’t just begin in worship, we should be worshipping God in all our thoughts and deeds, in our actions and in our words.

There is no start, and there is no end. To be frank, no one can lead you in worship. No man can lead you in worship to God, only the Spirit can give you the words to say, give you desire to praise such an awesome God we serve. You don’t just go to church where someone there helps your heart focus on God, that’s all through the Spirit, through your own heart and through you as an individual before the Lord. We worship collectively as individuals.

Music isn’t all worship

Let’s be straight here as well. Music is only a tiny fraction of what worship actually is. The Bible says:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Worship is everything we do, it is a way we can communicate with God, it is a way we can give Him praises, and it is a way in which we can actually remember truths and passages from the Bible. If you look at hymns for example, their purpose is often to help people remember key truths about the Bible and about God. Are we losing that today?

Nonetheless, music isn’t worship. Music is a tool God has given us, to help us and to give it back to Him. Martin Luther said, ‘Next to the word of God the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.’ However, I think, we, the church, can get too focused on just one facet of what worship is. We will rehearse, practice and make a fantastic performance on stage, but what is our prayer life like? Do we spend time with God? Do we read our Bibles? Do we show a Christian life by our actions always? Sometimes we focus on one facet that we forget all the others which are just as, if not even more, important. We may get excited over a song, but we have to ask the question — do we get excited because we love the tune, love the music, but not what worship is all about?

I’m not against ‘Worship Leaders’ but..

I understand the need for someone to help keep everyone in tune, in focus and in musical cohesion, but let’s be straight here, no person actually leads worship. If anything the Spirit helps us in our singing praise, but again no person should be in a position like this, it is though as if it was just a title given to someone to sound spiritual.

Again, I am not against someone at the front helping the congregation sing and what not, but it’s the term that I have problems with, can it not be just an ego situation?

So is Music bad?

Certainly not! Music is a great gift! (Psalm 71:23; 105:2; 150: 1-5, Colossians 3:16; Revelation 14: 3-4) and one we should cherish and love to do, it allows us to be creative and it allows us to express ourselves when words fail us. Nonetheless, we must remember that it is all about Him, the mighty God, the One we are told to hold in reverent fear as well as love and adore. When we sing to our Father we do need to be serious and mean what we say. If we sing ‘I surrender all’, for example, then we should surrender all to Jesus, rather than merely singing for the sake of it (or because it’s catchy and modern) then going home and forgetting all about it. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites and, to be frank, we can be very hypocritical in our music.

Music shouldn’t also be about using the latest snazziest catchphrases. For example, in recent times ‘oceans’, ‘waves’ and ‘storms’ having been doing the rounds. Before that it was ‘dry bones’ and I can keep going on. When we write music as worship, it should all be from the heart, about what God is telling us, and what we have been through, not what is trendy. Let’s be frank, modern songs/hymns have produced some amazing and great songs that really come from the heart, but there are also a number which just sound like they have been regurgitated time and time again, the same phrases, the same things being said. When we describe God, surely there are more ways of saying ‘You are awesome’ or ‘You are great.’ Don’t get me wrong, these are amazing truths, but sometimes it feels to me that less time has been put into the lyrics and more time into the production quality. Lyrics are important! Sometimes I can’t resist rewriting certain songs for my own personal use, and I’ll probably go on a massive rewriting spree now with many others because sometimes the tune is great but the words are so weak.

When we worship, via music, via songs, we must ensure it comes from the heart and that we mean it. We must also be prepared to learn, to be prepared to be challenged. We must acknowledge all aspects of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion

Now I love music, I love music in churches, but I just wanted to write this. I think sometimes we get the wrong concept of what worship is. We don’t start or begin worship, when we sing we actually join in with the choruses in heaven, but our whole life is worship, of one form or another. Live a life that worships God, love Him with all your strength and yes praise Him in music, but always remember Who you are worshipping.

The Importance of Reading and Meditating on Your Bible Every Day

I remember a little ditty I learnt as a youngster, to the tune of London’s Burning:

Read your Bible, read your Bible
read it daily, read it daily.
It’s a lamp; it’s a lamp,
and a light to your pathway.

The words are simple but they are so true. It’s based on Psalm 119:105, which says quite simply:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

One of the most touted (and rightly so!) verses about the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16 says:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Bible is so vital in everybody’s life. Without it, we can’t grow, we can’t serve God properly. There’s so much we can learn from God’s word, rich doctrine, practical helps; it’s everything we need for life – our ‘guidebook’ if you like. It shouldn’t sit on our shelf collecting dust. It’s our Sword of the Spirit, our weapon. We must never be unarmed. It’s how we stay alive, how we tackle the trials and tribulations that come our way. It’s our most valuable possession.

What do you reach for in the morning when you wake-up? Is it your Bible or your phone? We need to ensure we have our priorities are right, even if we have a busy day ahead of us. Devotional times set us up for the day. Martin Luther had a lot to do one day, his attitude was, “I’ve so much work today, I shall need at least three hours alone with the Lord!”

Just reading a daily devotional is not enough, we need to pray and dive head-first straight into God’s word. There is so much in scripture about the importance of growing as believers by reading and meditating on God’s word. How much does the Bible mean to us? Have a look at these Chinese believers receiving Bibles for the first time:

Contrast that with our reaction upon opening our Bibles…

The Importance of Routine

Ever since I became a Christian, as a young lad, something I’ve endeavoured to stick to, every morning, is to have a regular time with the Lord. I’ve found it an immense blessing, although I’ve failed miserably many times. Last year, due to changing circumstances, I fell out of my pattern. The devil had a field day. Once you lose it, it’s incredibly difficult to get back. They were a torrid few months and I’m still struggling to find that quality time to be alone with the Lord and His Word.

Some people dislike routines as it can become just a routine; but it is so important to read your Bible every day. I accept that for many people routines are not possible and they find better and even more regular times with the Lord ad hoc. A routine is better than not reading the Bible at all. However, we should aim far higher…

The Importance of Meditation

The Psalms, in hundreds of places talk about meditating at all hours of the day and night on God’s word.

“In the night I remember your name. At midnight I rise to give you thanks. I rise before dawn and cry for help. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night that I may meditate on your promises. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob. All night long I flood my bed with weeping, drenching my couch with tears. In the morning, as well, I lay my requests before you, waiting in expectation. Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord.” (Numerous places).

This total devotion to God is definitely lacking in many Christians. Christ isn’t where he should be in our lives. It’s one thing to just read a portion of scripture — it’s another to take it in, to study, understand, meditate and carry into our day those words. Out of every part we read, we should look at what it tells us about Christ. Then we should be stirred to pray. We should strive for a deeper understanding and experience of God. There’s so much more we’re missing out on.

Paul’s prayer sums it all up:

“… that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that You may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

What we then learn should stir us to worship and glorify our Maker. Paul then goes onto pray:

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

That’s our ultimate aim, to glorify Christ. A quote I came across recently puts it like this:

“Theology that does not lead to worship barely deserves the name.”

Every day we should be blown away by God’s mercies, His sheer awesomeness and power. Everything, our all, heart, mind, soul and strength should be geared towards praising our God.

Conclusion

The importance of reading and meditating on your Bible every day cannot be under-estimated. It should be part and parcel of every Christian’s life, alongside prayer, worship and regular fellowship with other believers. Bible reading plans can be a help; and I would recommend Robert Murray McCheyne’s plan, which takes you through the whole Bible in a year and the New Testament and Psalms twice.

So with that, go, read and be blessed and be sure to keep your Sword handy!