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Worship Series: God’s Government
Worship Theme: Stressing These Things
Lesson & Sermon Text: Titus 3:1-8 (EHV)
Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23 (NIV)
Music: CWS 735 Speak, O Lord, CW 200 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, CW 619 God Bless Our Native Land (in worship folder)
Song by Grades 3-4: Thy Word
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Watch the livestream beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.
Message: Stressing These Things
“Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready to do any good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, to be gentle, and to display every courtesy toward all people.” The Apostle Paul showered Titus with this wisdom. Then, Paul was instructing Titus how to care for and teach the church located on the island of Crete. Now, Paul’s words still ring true today. Paul understood that people need reminders. But do Christians need reminders? OH YEAH!! Sometimes I need to be reminded 2-3 times to do the dishes, to make dinner, or to do the laundry which I said I was going to do. We all need frequent reminders to live our Christianity because how quickly we forget!
Over the past 4 weeks we have grappled with government, conversed about conspiracies, vied with voting, and powered through politics. Today will be no different as we continue talking about God’s government. But in a way, today’s sermon will be a summary in which we bring it all together. I think too often we pastors are afraid to repeat ourselves. We are concerned that what we present will be considered too boring or not new enough. Well, not today. Paul even says in our text, “Remind them.” We are going to stress some of the things we’ve already talked about.
In the first sermon, Pastor Brohn told us that we are to submit and obey the government. It doesn’t matter whether we like the leader or not. It doesn’t matter whether we think their policies are incredibly stupid or absolutely brilliant. We are to submit and obey. The only exception is if we are commanded to break God’s laws, in which case we would refuse in as peaceful a manner as possible. Other than that, we are to follow our leaders. We are to follow not just our national leaders, but our state and local leaders as well. They are due our honor and respect because God has placed them in positions of power. Pastor Brohn taught us that from God’s Word and now we’ve been reminded.
In the second sermon, I told us about conspiracy theories. How we should be careful and filter what we share. We don’t just share everything. We want what we share to be true. We don’t just share things that are true; we want them to be constructive. We don’t just share things that are true and constructive; we want to share things that are the highest and best use of our time. That’s what the 8th commandment states when it tells us not to slander others. We’re not just supposed to do this for the decent people and those who are nice to us. We’re not supposed to slander the scumbags either. We are not to slander anyone. We are to simply love the people God puts on this earth with us. I taught us that from God’s Word and now we’ve been reminded.
In the third sermon, Pastor Enter told us about voting with our faith. As Christians we might come to different decisions about who we vote for and why we vote for them. Applying God’s principles laid out for us in the Bible, we may still not have a clear-cut candidate to choose for a government office. Because we have different experiences, we might vote our faith in different ways than the person next to us. Yet, we are to be gentle with everyone, even the people with really ridiculously wrong ideas or the people who drive you completely bonkers. Pastor Enter taught us that from God’s Word and now we’ve been reminded.
Last one. In the fourth sermon, Pastor Brohn told us about politics. We are not to be divided by the power of politics. We’re not to be rear-view mirror Christians holding on to past political grievances. We’re not to be tunnel-vision Christians focusing in on and assuming only all the bad things that will happen if someone is elected. Instead, we are to look beyond the power of politics to God and gather together as one body under God’s power and sovereignty. Pastor Brohn taught us that from God’s Word and now we’ve been reminded.
Why do we need all these reminders? Because despite us teaching you, you don’t always listen! While the three of us were preaching to all of you, we were also preaching to ourselves. We don’t always listen to the things we are teaching either. There are still people here taking cheap shots at political views on Facebook. There are still those of us turning our leaders into nothing more than a joke, refusing to give any honor or respect. There are still those of us that are doing the exact same actions which we criticize in our leadership. We complain and complain without lifting a finger to fix the problem or help. We have definitely not been peaceful and gentle to others. At least, not to everyone. And I am a little bit concerned that no matter which leaders are elected in a couple days, our church will be divided. Not by the government, but by ourselves. Because we’ve spent a lot of time ceaselessly worrying over our next leader instead of trusting God and doing what we can by showing love. We’ve been in sin. Look at verse 3 in our text. It says, “For at one time we ourselves were also foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by many kinds of evil desires and pleasures, living in malice and jealousy, being hated and hating one another.” These are probably not the words you would choose to describe yourself in a job interview because they look bad. They incriminate us and show us we are guilty. But there is a key phrase in this verse that changes everything: “For at one time.” As in, we are no longer in that time as Christians. We’ve changed. Now, while a part of me might still chase after those things due to my sinful nature, I am not that person anymore. It’s not me. You are not that type of person anymore. It’s not what you want for your life. Something changed and verse 4 tells us what brought about this amazing transformation.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward mankind appeared, he saved us—not by righteous works that we did ourselves, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and the renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Jesus changed everything for us. We aren’t perfect, but he was perfect for us. All those things I reminded you of earlier? They are important and we are to keep them, but Jesus’ love overshadows all of them. His blood fills in the gaps in your obedience created by sin. He has washed us of our mistakes, our shortcomings, the times we’ve acted in complete disobedience to the government and to God. Whether you’ve kept all the commands we told you to or not, that’s not how you are getting to heaven. By Jesus’ mercy keeping all those things and living and dying in our place is how we get to heaven. That’s why we cling to this faith we have. Because it’s an absolute truth in Christ. It’s not something that could change because it’s not based on us and our imperfections. Our salvation is based on Christ and his perfection. It’s unchanging and secure! This message accompanied by the Holy Spirit works a change in us. We are washed, reborn and renewed. And the Holy Spirit keeps on working in us. So yeah, we’ve changed. We can be bold in following Christ’s teachings and commands because we are secure in his love and the salvation he’s given to us. In light of this, I don’t have to be the person I used to be. In fact, I don’t even want to be the same person I used to be. I no longer see the things we’ve heard about in the last few sermons as rules I have to do, but rather things I am motivated to do out of love. It’s funny. I was trying to figure out a way to describe this to you while the radio was playing. As I zoned out of my thoughts and focused on the music, these were the very next words I heard. “Why would I turn back now? There’s no end to the love I found. I’ve been changed.” (From the song “Changed” by Jordan Feliz.) Through God’s word, I see the bigger picture now. Let’s look back at the past sermons again.
In the first sermon, We saw how God is in complete control. It’s his government and people in authority are only there because he lets them be there. He is the origin of government. In the second sermon, we saw what happens whether conspiracy theories are true or not. What happens is Jesus still loves you, your sins are still forgiven, you still have a heavenly home, you are still a redeemed child of God. We also saw how Jesus conquered the greatest conspirer of all time: the devil. The devil conspired to destroy us through our sin and death and hell. But Jesus crushed the devil and his plan, bringing to light the truth of salvation for us. In the third sermon, we saw how God has given us the freedom in our country to vote. We have many avenues to voice our opinions in a respectful and godly manner. And our votes matter. In the fourth sermon, we saw that God’s power is beyond the power of politics. Do you remember how God’s craftsmen were stronger than the horns of politics? God sends the craftsmen to build something according to God’s plan regardless of whether the horns were working good or evil. There is a point to politics. God uses politics according to his plan. God is always working for the good of his people, building them up, often behind the scenes. Through this, we have a peace that no one can take away from us.
Do you know what people would pay for this sort of thing? Imagine if there were an auction and up for sale were no more pain, miraculous health and youth, someone who’s always got your back and twists things for your benefit, and something that could give you peace and joy forever. The bids would be exorbitantly high. I know I’d give every cent to my name if it meant a guarantee for no more pain. These are the things we get from God completely free.
You are justified in Christ. And you don’t have to wait until your life is over to find out where you are going. You’ve already found out. “Having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs in keeping with the hope of eternal life.” If you are an heir, you get an inheritance. That’s the way it works. God has marked you down for the inheritance of heaven. Jesus wrote you in his will so that when he died, you got all of this from him, but Jesus didn’t stay dead and neither will you. Paul stresses these things so you don’t have to stress out. God’s got this, even in the insanely crazy world we live in.
So why did we just review all that? Because it’s vital we remember as we head through these “strange and unprecedented times.” God shows us how to act through these times and why we should. A lot of it comes down to this: humility. Think to yourself about the answer to this next statement. Often when you continue to make fun of someone or stay mad at someone, it’s because you feel superior to them. That’s what allows you to look down on someone else. It’s hard to despise someone when we feel we are on the same level as someone else. We think we’re better, or smarter, or more deserving so we can look down on them. That’s what our sinful pride allows us to do. So what stops you? Humility. Remember what Paul said we were like. Foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by evil desires and pleasure, living in malice and jealousy, being hated, and hating one another. Every single one of us was like that before Christ. Every single one of us, whether that was before baptism worked faith in your heart or honestly not that long ago. Does that type of person seem like they deserve a rich reward that people would pay anything for? An inheritance of pain free, blissful, eternal life? Not a chance. How can we ever be proud of our righteousness apart from God? If I say, “What’s with them? Why are they so awful?” I can easily say the exact same thing about myself: “Why was I so awful?” How can we ever think anyone is anything less than we are when everything we have is a gift from God? Jesus reminds us he saved us…because we really did need saving.
Now, I’m not saying we are all worthless. It’s not who we are in Christ. But knowing what we were and what Christ has done for us and what he’s made us into, shapes how we act. Our salvation is not based on us. We are saved because of Christ. That’s a trustworthy saying that shapes how we live right now. What can you do right now? In our own imperfect way, the Holy Spirit allows us to carry out his work. We can ask ourselves, “Would someone say something like I’m about to in heaven?” “Is this the type of love Jesus would share?” “Should I worry right now, or pray to God about this?” These are the types of questions we can ask ourselves to check our actions. And regardless if someone is a Republican or a Democrat or a Green Party member or someone who is none of the above or someone who avoids politics like the plague, we can show them the love of Christ. Because after seeing what Christ has done for us. After knowing what he’s still going to do, regardless of the winners of this election, as Christians we make good works and showing love our business. We can focus on God. We can bring a bit of heaven to earth so others can get a taste of how good the inheritance of God really is.
Special thanks again to Pastor Jon Bourmann, Peace, Aiken SC. I “borrowed” many of his ideas for this message.