Brookdale Baptist
December 26th AM Service
  • Great Is Thy Faithfulness
  • Amazing Grace
  • Grace Unmeasured
  • Facing a Task Unfinished
  • Titus 3:12-15
    At the risk of over-stereotyping, please allow me to suggest that typical Midwestern Americans (and Americans in general) tend to function in an individualistic way. We keep to ourselves, rely on ourselves, and interact with other people to a limited degree.
    This individualistic lifestyle contrasts with the more social, relational, and community-oriented lifestyle practiced by many cultures in the Far East. In such cultures, people rely on and interact with one another to a much greater degree.
    Though we certainly need to take personal responsibility for our lives, we have much to learn from a more social, relational, and community-oriented culture. In fact, the end of Paul’s letter to Titus brings this out. His closing comments to Titus reveal that a church is more than a group of people who follow Christ. It is a group of people who should share their life and service for Christ together. This close connection to one another in the church is a necessary way to live with grace, working out God’s grace in our lives together.
    In these closing instructions, we see three ways that we should draw closer together as a church. We should cooperate together (Tit 3:12), contribute to one another (Tit 3:13-14), and communicate with each another (Tit 3:15). We can call these principles the 3 C’s of Church Teamwork.
    Cooperation requires giving our effort.
    Contribution requires giving our resources.
    Communication requires giving our words.
    Christian author and speaker, John C. Maxwell, has rightly observed, “It takes teamwork to make the dream work.” Any church who desires to help people take their next steps in following Christ must put God’s grace to work together. The key word here is together. So many of the good works that grace enables are the works we do together as a church.

    We must cooperate with one another.

    Titus 3:12 NKJV
    When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.
    Here Paul names two people and a place. The people are Artemas and Tychicus. These are Greek names which indicates that they had left a pagan lifestyle to follow Christ. These were first-generation followers of God.
    We don’t now much about Artemas. This is the only time he’s mentioned in the NT.
    We know more about Tychicus. He traveled with Paul to Jerusalem when Paul would be sentenced to prison in Rome for the first time (Acts 20:4). Then he carried NT letters to Ephesus and Colosse while Paul was in prison at Rome (Eph 6:21; Col 4:7). Then he later served as Paul’s personal representative to churches (2 Tim 4:12).
    2 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
    And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.
    Why did Paul mention these men to Titus? Because he telling Titus know that one of these men would replace him on Crete in the near future. Since we know that Paul would later send Tychicus to Ephesus (2 Tim 4:12), it seems probable that Artemas was the man whom Paul ended up sending to replace Titus – though we can’t say for sure.
    What’s clear is that at the time Paul sent this letter to Titus, he himself was unsure which man he would eventually send. This uncertainty reveals the humanity of Paul while giving two names reveals his diligent planning.
    Why did Paul plan to send one of these men to replace Titus on Crete? Because he wanted to reconnect with Titus and spend more time together in Nicopolis. Nicopolis was located approx. 500 mi. from Crete, half of which Titus would need to venture by boat and the other half on foot. Such a journey would require days if not weeks.
    “Be diligent” means to “be quick.” Once Titus’s replacement had arrived, why must be go to Paul quickly? Because winter would feature cooler, less comfortable conditions for travel, especially on the water. Paul had not yet arrived at Nicopolis either, but he planned to arrive before winter and he wanted to spend that season reconnecting and serving the church together with Titus, as his mentor.
    This instance of friendship, partnership, and teamwork is just one of many examples in Paul’s life as a Christian in which he worked together closely with other people to serve and strengthen the church. Not even the most capable Christian leader can serve Christ effectively by himself. To do the good works that God’s grace enables us to do for him, we must do them together.
    Earlier in today’s worship service, we got our first look at our calendar of church events for the New Year. How many of those events will require us to cooperate with grace to succeed? Most of them. It will take more than a pastor and more than a faithful few.
    Consider Vacation Bible School. We’ll need group leaders, group helpers, skit actors, prop designers, and food servers. We’ll also need ladies to conduct the new Moments for Mom’s ministry, men to provide the Dinner for Dad’s ministry, and nearly everyone to distribute invitations and get out the word. Will you plan now to participate and be a key part of this special and strategic outreach to our community?

    We must contribute to one another.

    Titus 3:13–14 NKJV
    Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing. And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
    Here Paul names two more of his Christian friends, Zenas and Apollos. The first name, Zenas, is Greek which indicates that he had also left a pagan lifestyle to follow Christ. The second name, Apollos, is also Greek, but he had been born as a Jew (Acts 18:24).
    We don’t know much about Zenas, except for that he was a lawyer. To be a lawyer meant one of two things. Either he was (a) an expert in Jewish civil and religious law or (b) an expert in Roman civil law. His Greek name strongly indicates the latter.
    That Zenas was a lawyer reminds us that to accomplish our mission as a church requires more than pastors and missionaries. Paul partnered with lawyers (as here), doctors (like Luke, Col 4:14), accountants (like Erastus, Rom 16:23), and school administrators (like Jason, Acts 19:9). Whatever your occupation may be as a follower of Christ, you have a necessary and strategic role in bringing God’s grace to the world.
    We know much more about Apollos. He was an eloquent speaker whom Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla had mentored in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-28). He who would go on to serve as an effective pastor for the church at Corinth for a while (1 Cor 3:4-6).
    We don’t know exactly what these two men were doing on Crete, but Paul indicates that they had already arrived. It’s very possible that they had carried this letter to Titus from Paul, but it’s also very possible that they had done so as part of a bigger plan, a larger trip to somewhere else to do more for the church elsewhere.
    Whatever the case, Paul told Titus to “send them on their journey,” which means to make the rest of they’re journey and mission possible. “With haste” meant to do so eagerly and efficiently.
    But how was Titus to do this? “That they may lack nothing.” This phrase tells us that Titus was supposed to make their journey possible by meeting their material needs. He was to arrange housing for them, feed them, and provide travel money and whatever else they needed to conduct the next leg of their journey.
    By doing so, Titus would not only share God’s grace with Christian friends who were doing a good work for the church and needed assistance, he would show the many new believers in the churches on Crete how to do the same for each another.
    When believers in the church assist one another when various members face financial hardship and need help in serving the Lord, we should band together to meet those needs. That’s one of the crucial ways that we live with grace, being what we should be and doing what we should do. When we live this way, we will enjoy productive Christian lives. When we live selfish, stingy, isolated, and individualistic lives, we hinder God’s grace and fail to produce the fruit that God’s grace makes possible.
    How can you contribute to others in the church in the year ahead?
    Right now, we’re collecting a love offering for our missionaries to Haiti, Jason and Tammy Hughes.
    Next summer, one of our high school members – Caleb Murphy – will need help to hone missionary skills and spread the gospel on a short-term trip to the Middle East.
    Guest speakers and missionaries will travel through the F/M area and need housing for a night or more.
    The deacons will be meeting urgent needs of our members behind the scenes by distributing our contributions to the deacons’ fund.
    Let me encourage you to give to one or more of these causes as God allows. These are good works that we can do to put God’s grace to work among us. May I, like Titus, be an example to you in doing so.

    We must communicate with each other.

    Titus 3:15 NKJV
    All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
    This final verse provides us with a straightforward example of an especially important principle for relationships within the church. It is this – grace speaks. Or – grace talks.
    Paul told Titus that not only he but the other believers who were with Paul at the time of writing (we don’t know which church that was) wanted Titus to know that they said “hello.”
    Paul also wanted Titus to relay the same warm sentiments and expressions of support to the church members on the island of Crete as well.
    It would be easy to assume such sentiments, wouldn’t it? It would also be easy to neglect expressing these sentiments knowing how distant these believers were from one another. Yet Paul shows us the importance of maintaining close relationships within the church through gracious expressions with words.
    How can we better communicate with each other?
    Use social media with a purpose. I use Facebook reluctantly but for a reason. Though social media will never replace the necessary, positive impact of personal connections, it does provide an opportunity to connect with more people on a useful level by posting and exchanging constructive and informative information which strengthens our relationships in a unique way. By using social media, I can maintain a useful level of contact with more people that I would be unable to do otherwise. Social media shouldn’t replace in-person contact, but it does enhance relationships through additional layers of communication not possible previously.
    Consider using postal mail and hand-written notes. This is a lost art today, but there’s still something special about receiving real mail from a real friend, whether that’s a birthday or anniversary card or a Christmas photo. How can we leverage the benefits of handwritten notes and real mail to express your love and support for one another in the year ahead? If you’re not the note-writing, mail-sending type of person, then perhaps you can expand your expressions of God’s grace by doing some of those things this coming year.
    Phone calls, text messages, and online video chat services can also make a difference. If God places another believer on your heart, then do more than pray for them sometimes. Send them some sort of electronic message to encourage them and express your love and support for them. Let them know they’re thought of and that you care. This is an expression of God’s grace. Sometimes I do this with Christian friends and church members, here or long distance. Sometimes I do this with other pastors, too.
    Finally, I’ll put in a plug in for home visits and personal meetups. If you want to improve your lines of communication within the church, the schedule to go out to eat, to an enjoyable event with another, or on a road trip with someone from the church. Don’t stay to yourself so much. And if you want to visit someone in the church who’s lonely and could use some in-person conversation and encouragement, then reach out to Jerry Sayler, Rod Johnson, or Dan Lund. They’ll be glad to help you do just that!
    As we prepare our hearts for a new year of life and service as a church, let’s plan to live with grace. Let’s commit ourselves to doing good works and to doing them together because teamwork makes the dream work.
      • 2 Timothy 4:12ESV

      • Titus 3:15ESV

  • The Longer I Serve Him
  • Joy Has Dawned

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