"Focus on What Is Core" — A Year with Jesus for 11/04/2017
Note from Jesus
I walked the streets and footpaths of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea two thousand years ago. I came as God incarnate and gave Myself as a sacrifice for your sins and everyone else's sin (1 John 2:1-2). The ultimate validation of Who I AM and of the efficacy of My sacrifice was My resurrection (Acts 13:26-33). Through the years, those who believe in Me and commit themselves to Me have come together to form My church. However, Satan has consistently used a tried and proven method to sabotage My disciples' work to build My church. The evil one gets people arguing about religious things that are not that important. If he can distract My followers with useless, foolish, and selfish arguments, he knows that they will lose their focus on the core truths of their faith. Paul's letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, as well as the letters of 2 Peter and Jude, speak directly to these problems. In today's verses from 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul addressed similar issues with Timothy who was in Ephesus and with Titus who was in Crete.
Paul spoke in lofty words about "God's family" to remind My leaders and those to whom they ministered that My church is precious. My church is not just a thing or an idea. The church is the blood-bought family of people who have the purpose of being My blessing and bringing My redemption to their lost world. However, to do the work of redemption, the people of My family have to remain focused on the core truths of the gospel. Without this focus, their fellowship can devolve into personality clashes. If this primary focus is lost or if there are arguments over inconsequential semi-religious issues, My people can be trapped by immorality in all of its forms.
In today's verses, you see Paul as he addressed the issues that were distracting My beloved disciples in Crete (where Titus ministered) and in Ephesus (where Timothy served). He pointed these disciples away from the distracting issues of false teaching, "worldly fables," and "sensual cravings and pleasures." Paul encouraged Timothy and Titus to point My beloved disciples in Crete and Ephesus in the direction of the core gospel and the life-change that true faith puts in place of the world's foolish and destructive counterfeit approaches to life. Notice that some of the core teachings involve the following subjects:
My identity as the Christ, Son of God, and Savior
God's promises about Me and My fulfillment of My mission on earth
The validation of My resurrection and return to glory
The proclamation of the gospel all over the world
The importance of godliness in all things
My return to completely redeem and save you
The Father's great grace, mercy, and loving-kindness toward you when you were living in sin
Your rebirth through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit
The significance of baptism
The importance of living a humble and holy life full of good deeds
Verses to Live
My beloved disciple, I want you to focus on the core things of your faith. To the delight of the evil one, many people want to distract you from these core things. You can always find a way to argue about religious ideas. Instead, stick to what is core. Refuse to get distracted by what is not essential, by false teaching, or by the lure of immorality. I called you to be salt in a world of decay and light in a world of darkness (Matthew 5:13-16). Paul urged Timothy and Titus to teach the people to whom they ministered to be the same!
I [Paul] am writing all this to you, hoping I can come to you before too long; but in case I am delayed, you will know how one ought to behave as a member of God's family — the assembly of the living God, the pillar and foundation that support the truth — and I think you will agree that the mystery of godliness is great:
He was revealed in the flesh,
proven right in the Spirit;
He was seen by the heavenly messengers,
preached to outsider nations.
He was believed in the world,
taken up to the heavens in glory.
But even so, the Spirit very clearly tells us that in the last times some will abandon the true faith because of their devotion to spirits sent to deceive and sabotage, and mistakenly they will end up following the doctrine of demons. They will be carried away through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences have been branded with a red-hot iron, saying, "Don't marry. Don't eat such-and-such foods." But God created all these to be received with gratitude by people who hold fast to the faith and really comprehend the truth. For everything God made is good. That means nothing should be rejected as long as it's received with a grateful heart, for by God's word and prayer, it is made holy.
Place these truths before the brothers and sisters. If you do, you will be a good servant of Jesus the Anointed, raised and fed on words of true belief, trained in the good instruction you have so clearly followed. Reject worldly fables. Refuse old wives' tales. Instead, train yourself toward godliness. Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things — holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. This statement is worthy of trust and our full acceptance. This is what we work so hard for! This is why we are constantly struggling: because we have an assured hope fixed upon a living God Who is the Savior of all humankind — especially all of us who believe.
(1 Timothy 3:14-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-10)
Be ready to do what is good and honorable. Don't tear down another person with your words. Instead, keep the peace, and be considerate. Be truly humble toward everyone because there was a time when we, too, were foolish, rebellious, and deceived — we were slaves to sensual cravings and pleasures; and we spent our lives being spiteful, envious, hated by many, and hating one another. But then something happened: God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; He came to save us. It's not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. He brought us out of our old ways of living to a new beginning through the washing of regeneration; and He made us completely new through the Holy Spirit, Who was poured out in abundance through Jesus the Anointed, our Savior. All of this happened so that through His grace we would be accepted into God's covenant family and appointed to be His heirs, full of the hope that comes from knowing you have eternal life. This is a faithful statement of what we believe.
Response in Prayer
O Father, forgive me when I become distracted by the latest religious fad, by the newest debate about hard-to-understand things, or by the lure of immorality. There are times when each of these has tugged at my heart, distracted my mind, and muddied the clarity of my devotion. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that He was buried in a grave suffering the sting of mortality. I also believe that He rose from the dead victorious over sin, death, and hell for the lost people He came to save. Because of this, dear Father, I believe that my faith in Jesus and my participation with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism have given me the assurance of life forever with You. I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me a new birth into a new way of life because of Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. Empower me, please dear Father, as I commit to living for You. I want my life to be full of good deeds to honor and thank You. You have done so much for me. I want to be Your salt and light in a world of decay and darkness. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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