RSS

Category Archives: spiritual health

Image

One More J.I. Packer Quote: The Healthy Christian

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 27, 2019 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , ,

A Spiritually Healthy Family (A Study of the Epistle to Titus) (Part 1 of 5)

I’m so thankful for the ministry opportunities that the Lord is giving me in my old age (I’m 69). Camp Elim in Woodland Park, Colorado, is having me speak at their family camp May 25-27. My blog gives me the space to think through and prepare five messages for the families that attend.

There are many passages in Scripture that speak directly to families (I think of Ephesians 5 which gives certain commands to husbands and wives and Ephesians 6 which does the same for children). In the Old Testament we have the very famous statement in Deuteronomy 11 which says,We who are followers of Jesus acknowledge the divine authority of the Old Testament, so this passage in Deuteronomy challenges us parents and grandparents to constantly focus on God’s words — and share them with our children and grandchildren!

If all 66 books of the Bible are part of God’s Word, then every individual book of the Bible contains truth that spiritually-healthy families need. Hence, this study of the little letter to Titus! Let’s look at Titus 1 this morning:

The Spiritually-Healthy Family —

I. Cares Deeply about the Local Church (1:1-9)

A. Wants to further the faith of God’s elect (v. 1)

There is much I don’t understand about election, but here Paul expresses his desire to help the elect grow in godliness. A spiritually-healthy person has that desire as well.

B. Affirms the value of the biblical preaching of the gospel (vv. 2-3)

God — who does not lie — has made certain promises and these are “brought to light” through the faithful proclamation of His Word.

C. Recognizes the need for godly leadership (vv.  5-9)

The spiritually-healthy family believes in God-appointed human authority in the local church and prays for those in leadership.

(We will continue this five-part series over the next few days)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 1, 2019 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , , , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 10 (Conclusion)

We’ve been looking at the little epistle to Titus, asking how we can get and stay spiritually healthy. Let’s summarize what we have seen:

Knowing who we are in Christ and having a clear sense of our purpose in life is the beginning. We also must have confidence in the character of God and a commitment to communicating the truth about Him to others (Ch. 1).  We also learn from chapter 1 that we need spiritual leaders in our churches who meet certain criteria — and we are to co-operate with them as they lead us in serving the Lord!  Chapter 1 also taught us that we are to avoid spiritually negative influences (false teachers). Such deceptive, disruptive people need to be rebuked by God’s leaders.

Chapter 2 of Titus gives specific guidance to several groups of believers if they wish to be “sound” in the faith. Behaving ourselves will minimize criticism from outsiders and will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. Chapter 2 also teaches about God’s saving, teaching, waiting, purifying, and encouraging grace. Which I need. And I suspect you do too.

How we treat others is one theme in chapter 3. We are to be subject to authorities and not be grouchy Christians!  We are also reminded in chapter 3 of our B.C. condition (before conversion) — and it quite humbling! We further learn in chapter 3 that we are to avoid certain topics and people — for such arguments are wasting our precious time on planet earth!  And in our last post, we learned that we need our co-workers’ companionship as we do the work of the Lord.

I want to be spiritually sound and healthy.  And I’m sure you do too.  What is required of us is that we take specific steps (illustrated here in Titus) to move in that direction.  As one radio preacher used to put it, “Lord, may we grow in grace that we may not groan in disgrace!”  Amen.

Friends: I just did a 40 minute webinar with my son Brian on “Seven Mistakes Writers Make.” You can see it below!

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 20, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 9

How do we get — and stay — spiritually healthy?  It seems this is a critical question that Paul’s letter to Titus discusses.  Soundness of soul — that’s one way to look at spiritual health, isn’t it?  Let’s look at the last section of Titus 3 to conclude our study of this critical topic.

One central question in regard to spiritual health is: How do I relate to others? How do they impact my spiritual well-being — and I theirs?

In this last section, Paul speaks of co-workers (Artemas or Tychicus) that he is going to send to Titus to help him in his work. He also asks that Titus do his best to come to him at Nicopolis. Paul wanted companionship!

Paul also encourages Titus to help others. Specifically, Zenas the lawyer and Apollos (the Apollos of Acts 18?) need help in their ministry (v. 13). As a general principle, Paul emphasizes the point that “our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives” (v. 14).

Spiritual health involves our relationships with other believers. Some need help; others need encouragement to give themselves to doing what is good. We need to be aware of urgent needs. And we should not fritter away our lives in being unproductive.

Mutual affection between believers is shown by extending greetings to one another, especially to “those who love us in the faith” (v. 15). The “faith” here obviously refers to the content of truth we have received in knowing the Lord Jesus.

In our last post, we will summarize what we have learned about being spiritually sound and healthy from this incredible letter!  (to be continued)

Friends: I just did a 40 minute webinar with my son Brian on “Seven Mistakes Writers Make.” You can see it below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , , , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 8

We are asking the question, how do we become and stay spiritually fit in the Lord?  And the little epistle of Titus has much to teach us on this topic.  Let’s look at the next to last section of Titus 3 this morning:

Just as there are fast foods that we are to avoid — if we want to become physically healthy — so there are things that are detrimental to the believer’s spiritual health.  Some of those things are “foolish controversies” and “genealogies” and “quarrels about the law.”  Why are we to avoid these?  The answer is simple: “these are unprofitable and useless” (v. 9).

Not only topics, but some people are injurious to our spiritual health.  We are to deal directly with those who are divisive.  In fact, we are told to warn that person once, then a second time, then to “have nothing to do with them” (v. 10).  Wow!  How narrow-minded and “un-Christian”!  Nope.  Scripture says that such people “are warped and sinful and self-condemned” (v. 11)!

Minutes and hours wasted on useless arguments are minutes and hours lost, never to be recovered.  And there are some people that are negative and disruptive and detrimental to the people of God.  They are to be warned — twice! — then avoided.

So spiritual health is not only what we eat and how we exercise.  It is also what we should not “chew on” and people we should not spend time with.  Some topics are not worth our time.  And some people, especially those who are divisive, ought to be corrected and, if necessary, cut off from the people of God.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 17, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , , , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 7

In 1994 Os Guinness wrote a book called Fit Bodies Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do About It.  I think I could write a book called Fat Bodies and Fat Minds and Thin Wallets!

I’m working hard at getting fitter in my late 60’s.  But how much effort am I spending on getting spiritually healthy?  A major theme of the little epistle of Titus deals with soundness of soul.  Let’s look at our next section of this incredible letter:

Here in Chapter three we see our “B.C.” condition (before Christ).  Eight awful adjectives are used to describe us in our unsaved reality.  We were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

But God didn’t leave us that way!  In His kindness and love (v. 4) our Savior appeared and saved us!  He didn’t save us because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy (v. 5).  The Holy Spirit washed and renewed us and was “poured out generously” on us (v. 6).  We have now been “justified by his grace” (v. 7) and have become “heirs having the hope of eternal life” (v. 7).

That is what has happened to us!  That’s the truth about what we were and what we are now in Christ.  And that kind of healthy good news ought to sink into our spiritual bones and cause us to rejoice!

Stress is a major factor in negatively impacting the health of many people.  But “stress” can also be a verb.  And Paul challenges Titus to “stress these things” (v. 8).  We are to focus upon and emphasize these truths so that those who have made this transition out of darkness into His light “may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good” (v. 8).  Realization and practical response are required of the healthy believer who enjoys soundness of soul!  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 15, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 6

“It just dawned on me that there are 70 pounds of you that I’m not legally married to!”  These words could be said by my wife Linda, but she wouldn’t.  But she could.  Physically, I need to lose “a few pounds” — and I’m working on it.

Diet and exercise — that’s what I’m doing.  And it’s working!  My problem (among the many that I have) is that I sometimes try to do too much exercise.  Like yesterday when I played two sets of singles tennis and then had a doubles match last night!  My legs are speaking to me this morning and saying things that Christian legs ought  not to say.

But I want to get “in shape”, to “be fit.”  And that’s going take some work.

So it is in the Christian life.  We’ve been looking at the little epistle of Titus and seeing Paul’s concern for the spiritual health of this young Christian leader.  We move into chapter three of this letter:

Paul’s admonitions to Titus in this section relate to how we treat others.  Specifically, believers have an obligation to “be subject to rulers and authorities.”  A rebellious, anti-government attitude is not to characterize the follower of Jesus.  Obedience to God-appointed authority is a sign of spiritual health.

We are “to be ready to do whatever is good” (v. 1).  The spiritually healthy believer is an active believer, one who looks for opportunities to show by his or her works that the God of the Bible is real and wants a relationship with His creation.

Our speech (“to slander no one”) and our heart attitudes (“to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone”) are healthy conditions towards which we ought to strive.  The grouchy Christian is a contradiction in terms.  The harsh believer needs to drop down and do twenty push-ups, realizing that His Savior is gentle in heart.

The Lord Jesus — God manifest in the flesh — was subject to authorities, obedient, ready to do whatever is good, slandered no one, was peaceable and considerate and always gentle towards everyone.  And I want to be like Him.  You?   (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 13, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 5

How’s your health?  I mean your spiritual health?  And how do you measure your fitness before the Lord?  We’ve been looking at the little epistle to Titus which uses the word “sound” (or healthy) several times as Paul instructs Titus in the Christian life.

Let’s continue our study with the next section
of chapter two:

Now.  You need to know that this section is one of my most favorite passages in all the Bible!  In fact, I have posted on this text in a series entitled “Back to the Basics” which began on July 20, 2015! I also covered this section of Titus 2 in a post called “What’s So Amazing about Grace? A Free Sermon Outline” on August 16, 2018.

If I want to get and stay spiritually healthy, I need to deeply appreciate God’s saving, teaching, waiting, purifying, and encouraging GRACE!  And so do you.

It might help to think about what spiritual sickness looks like.  If I’ve somehow lost the joy of my salvation, I’m suffering from an illness.  A spiritual illness.  And I need God’s saving grace.  If I seem to be wandering aimlessly in my life (not allowing God’s teaching grace to guide me), I’m suffering from a malady which only His grace can cure.  If I’m impatient for the coming of the Lord, I’m missing out on His waiting grace and I need healing.  If I find my life is becoming conformed to the morally pathetic world around me, I need to recover the purifying grace which God gives.  If I walk around like I’ve been baptized in lemon juice and seem discouraged all the time, I need a fresh dose of His encouraging grace.

What does your spiritual thermometer say about your present condition before the Lord?  How would you rate your health in those five areas?  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 11, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 4

I’ve wanted to do a study of the little epistle of Titus for a long time.  And now is my chance!  We are looking at the question, how do we attain spiritual health?  How should spiritual health be defined?  What practices or disciplines contribute to our spiritual fitness?

This morning we move into chapter two.  Let’s notice what the Apostle Paul says there:

Here we have Paul’s third use of the term “sound” in 2:1 – “you must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”  We are all in need of good teaching! The fourth use of that term “sound” is in 2:2 where “the older men” are encouraged to be “sound in faith.”  In 2:8 “the young men” are challenged to be marked by soundness of speech.

Paul gets very specific in his suggested lesson plans for various groups.

Notice that he deals with “the older men” (v. 2), “the older women” (vv. 3-5), “the younger women” (vv. 4-5), “the young men” (vv. 6-8), and “slaves” (vv. 9-10).  Here’s a preliminary chart I’ve put together of Paul’s advice to these five groups:

Several observations occur to me as I look at this chart:
1. Paul focuses on five specific groups, encouraging Titus to “teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine” (v. 1).
2. It seems that the group (“the young women”) is a sub-category of the group (“the older women”).
3. Three out of five groups are encouraged to be self-controlled.
4. There are reasons given why certain groups should behave in certain ways: regarding the young women (“so that no one will malign the word of God”), regarding the young men (“so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us”), and slaves (“so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive”).

How do I stay spiritually fit and healthy until I’m dead?  I listen to and obey Paul’s admonitions in this section of Titus!  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: ,

Stay Spiritually Fit and Healthy — Until You Are Dead! Part 3

Some of you may recognize that I have borrowed the title of these posts from Dave Barry’s classic book.  I am asking, not so much about our physical health, as our spiritual health.  And we are looking at the great three-chapter epistle of Titus.

As we look at the last section of TItus 1, we notice that part of staying spiritually healthy is to recognize — and avoid — negative influences!

But avoidance isn’t Paul’s advice, really.  We are to “rebuke [these false teachers] sharply” (v. 13)!  Why?  So “that they will be sound in the faith” (v. 13).  [This is the 2nd use of the term sound in Titus].

False teaching and teachers are like weeds — they are everywhere and are hard to get rid of!  Paul describes these false teachers as rebellious, full of meaningless talk, deceptive, disrupting whole households, teaching things they ought not to teach, pursuing dishonest gain, etc.  And they need to be rebuked!  God’s people need to be told not to pay any attention to them, for these teachers reject the truth.  They have corrupted minds and consciences, are those who deny God, and are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for doing anything good!  Wow!

So, if I want to stay spiritually fit and healthy, I need to know what (or whom) to avoid!  I need those who will feed me from the Word of God.  And so do you!  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
12 Comments

Posted by on October 8, 2018 in spiritual health

 

Tags: , ,