LIVING PRODUCTIVE LIVES, POWERED BY GRACE

 

 

Esther King, Bible study leader for this month’s study

‘Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.’ Titus 3:14 

This coming Monday, 29 April at 7:30 in Corsham Baptist Church Hall, we will be studying the closing part of Titus. This study might seem at first glance like a series of disjointed, last-minute messages, but in them Paul gives clear, practical instructions for living productive lives powered by grace. He tells us what to avoid if our lives are to be fruitful, how to deal with people who create situations that threaten our fruitfulness and in contrast, what we must devote ourselves to in order to be fruitful. He signs off with a reminder that the key to living in this way is GOD’S GRACE- may grace be with us all!

The bible study questions are available at the churches, and more conveniently on this website. If you need a study buddy, please see Anne Holmes or Kathy Larkman.

We hope to see you Monday night for study and fellowship as we grow together in Christ!

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CHRIST OUR LORD SAVES!

vicky kellyThese last few weeks, Victoria Kelly has been sharing with us the ingredients of our “salvation cake”…..
“So, we have our mixture of ingredients- first, our sinful selves. Second, the heart of God. Now we need to make the cake. But here is the beauty of it (because I am certainly not very good at making cakes), God provides the method, he turns the ingredients into something good!
3. The free gift – How salvation comes to us
So how are we saved? Loving kindness and mercy of God took Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins, but it is only ‘through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit’ that changes our being, that cleanses our hearts to make us new, to literally give us a new birth. It is the Holy Spirit who applies God’s saving mercy in Christ directly onto us in the event of Spiritual rebirth. It washes our hearts leaving us holy and pure, one that is fit for the indwelling of God in the form of the Holy Spirit. We are made right, we are made righteous.
The simple imagery of the water washing us like we would to get the dirt of our outward bodies, is the powerful imagery used to describe the washing of the very souls of us. This same notion is in John 3 where Jesus himself is explaining this transformation: Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’” (John 3:5-8)
The ‘rebirth’ is literally a new creation. It is an individual experience for us all. God hasn’t just repaired the brokenness, but has made us new! Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus.
And look how it was given to us: ‘he poured out generously.’ Has anyone ever had a really bad shower experience? I mean, I love my shower. To get 5/10mins of alone time in the shower really is luxury, but as it has to be a quick shower before I’m needed to solve a toddler dispute, wipe a bum or provide a much needed snack that can’t wait an extra minute or two, I really need the shower to be powerful. So have you ever got into a shower, excitedly anticipate the warm embrace of the water pouring over you only to turn on the dial, but instead of the powerful stream of water you’re expecting, you get a slow, lukewarm trickle which splatters parts of your body. You’re left more cold than if there was no water at all and you’re disappointed! And if you’re like me, you’re stressed as the ‘ticking time bomb’ of children will explode at any given minute! Now, I’m pleased to say that is the complete OPPOSITE experience that our loving Heavenly Father gives titus-3-5-6-washing-cleansing-poured-outus. Praise God the renewal of the Holy Spirit is not like this. It doesn’t come in dribs and drabs, it is ‘poured out generously’. It is a full stream of renewal. So when the guilt or questions creep in, ‘Maybe that sin was just too big; I knew what I was doing when I committed this sin, but did it anyway; God can’t forgive that or renew that part of me,’ tell Satan to be quiet and get behind you as the promise of God is that we are a complete new creation. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) That is our confidence! That is our assurance. So through the renewal and rebirth of the Holy Spirit, we become new people. New hearts. New loves. New desires. How awesome is that?”

What a poignant word as we are in the midst of holy week! The week that will forever change history, change us, and gives us a sure and certain hope! Thank you for rescuing us dear Lord through the renewal and rebirth of the Holy Spirit!

Titus 3:3-8 SALVATION CAKE INGREDIENT 2

vicky kelly

VICTORIA KELLY 

Last week in an excerpt from Victoria Kelly’s teaching on Titus 3:3-8, the first ingredient began the making of the “salvation cake”. These verses teach us how we conduct ourselves around humanity and within our culture. Our responsibility for the world: is to instruct others in the way of truth because we were once without God ourselves. The joy is to be found in the transformation of our lives through Jesus where we can share the good news with others and lay out the grounds of Christian doctrine, which is salvation through the trinity.

Last week -The first ingredient:
1. Facing the truth about ourselves – The need for salvation

The following is the second of three excerpts of Victoria’s talk where she teaches with the analogy of a “salvation cake” to better grasp Paul’s message to us in this letter to Titus.
2. The heart of God – Where salvation originates

“When the kindness and love of God our saviour appeared…” (Titus 3:4)
We know the appearing is referencing Jesus Christ. Douglas J.W. Milne explains it in a powerful image using 2 Timothy 1:10 as his guide: ‘When everything on the human plane was pitch-dark and hopeless, the God of love burst into the darkness of this world in the person of his earth-born son, in a definitive moment of divine epiphany.’ Jesus burst through the darkness of our sin and in his amazing love, came to save us. That is the heart of God.
Let’s bear in mind verse 4 comes directly after the hideousness of verse 3. God’s kindness was given to a world that was so undeserving. Whilst we were selfishly indulging thinking of no one else, the generosity of God was afforded to us. Kindness is the idea of being generous toward someone who cannot pay it back, he is lifting off the ‘fee’ that we owe, even though we are ungrateful and wicked. This kind of kindness that Paul refers to is a divine quality that completely contrasts the despicable behaviour and traits people display in verse 3.
v5a “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy…”
1. Before reconciliation between us and God he had to deal with our disobedience, our rebellion. But he didn’t just HAVE mercy, he ACTED on it. Mercy led Jesus to the cross, which is where salvation flows. God couldn’t turn a blind eye to sin. To our sin of verse 3. It HAD to be punished. But God’s mercy and love and kindness dealt with it through Jesus at the cross, knowing we could never pay for it.

2. It is all God and Jesus. NOT OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Paul reminds of us this for three reasons: 1) Clears the grounds for declaring the true basis of salvation; 2) Restates that God justifies the ungodly; 3) Highlights/reminds the notion supposing Paul, Titus, Cretan Christians, the Corsham Christians occupy high moral ground from which to look down on others around them. No one is different from the worst Cretan.
These verses remind us that he reached out to us, way before we reached out to him. He saved because of his mercy, that is our true hope. We receive salvation completely undeserved – it is by grace alone.

That is the very heart of our God and is a complete contrast to our hearts of verse 3.

So, we have our mixture of ingredients, our sinful selves and the heart of God. Now we need to make the cake. But here is the beauty of it (because I am certainly not very good at making cakes),God provides the method, he turns the ingredients into something good!
Look for the method next week!

Hi Sisters!

I hope and pray that you are enjoying and growing as we study “The Good Life” in Titus this school year!

Victoria Kelly taught us from Titus 3:3-8 last time. She explained: “Chapter 3 sees the shift from our duties in the church and the home, to how we conduct ourselves around humanity and within our culture. Our responsibility for the world: is to instruct others in the way of truth because we were once without God ourselves. Without a personal experience of salvation, we lack the right to instruct others, but because of the joy to be found in the transformation of our lives through Jesus, we can share the good news with others and lay out the grounds of Christian doctrine, which is salvation through the trinity.”

The following is the first of three excerpts of Victoria’s talk where she teaches with the analogy of a “salvation cake” to better grasp Paul’s message to us in this letter to Titus. Take time to read the first ingredient and reflect and share with someone today! Love, Kathy

The first ingredient:
1. Facing the truth about ourselves – The need for salvation
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)

Why do we need salvation? It is explained fully here in verse 3.
We were: Foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved, envious, full of malice, hating each other. It paints an unsavoury picture of us as people before we had Christ.

  • This picture is the image of human life without grace. It describes our brokenness and rebellion in our lack of relationship with God.

So what does it mean to have a personal rebellion towards God?

  1. To be foolish is referenced as someone who doesn’t live as though there is a God. Ignoring God. Ignorant of the true purpose of life….
  2. … To be disobedient is to reject God’s rule and we want to run our own life. We repress the conscience within us, ignoring it and living the life we want….
  3. …. We were ‘deceived and enslaved’. We allow ourselves to reason, excuse various passions. Without God we were at the beck and call of sinful desires. The enemy takes pleasure in this and blinds us and takes us captive. We were slaves to him, but also slaves to our own sin. Trapped by the habits that we choose. Enslaved, is such a powerful image. To be a slave to something is hard work, torturous, relentless, it has control of you. Whilst the sin itself may come easy, the consequence of sin is painful. The enemy is quick to prowl and bring us down, he will rejoice in doing this. At the same time we can’t disregard our own responsibility of sin and saying no to it.
  4. …Our relationship with others was disruptive. Paul states we were full of ‘malice’ and ‘envy’. Wishing evil and resenting the good, fed by personal jealousies and ambitions and then ‘hate’. Having hostility towards each other and not wanting to do good to them.

What an ugly picture we have been. It is clear when we see a list like that that there was a fracture in our relationship with God, but also with everyone else too. Our choices have created patterns of personal behaviour that enslave us. No wonder we needed saving.

But how can we go from that life to another?

We can’t just exchange addiction for freedom on our own. It doesn’t work like that, especially as we were blind to needing to be changed in the first place. We need someone to save us. To rescue us. The answer is in verse 5: “he saved us”.
Look what we brought to the table in verse 3. We brought nothing good! We faced condemnation, judgement and death. But, “he saved us”. Romans 5:8 reminds us, “But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Because of the knowledge and understanding of God saving us from our own selves, it should give us the confidence to share this good news with others, as we come from a personal experience of salvation.
It is not the end of the baking! The salvation cake is not made yet! Look for ingredient two next week!