Our church is in a new series going through the book of Titus. It’s called “Healthy Church”. To help aid in our understanding and application I thought I would give a little more practical application regarding some of the things we talked about on Sunday. This is the second of two posts.
Growing in Godliness
An experience of God’s grace is expressed through godly living. One of the reasons not-yet-Christians have had a hard time believing the good news of the gospel is because too many Christ Followers lives resemble their own. We take too lightly the necessity of holiness in the lives of God’s people. Here are some ideas to change that.
1. Spend lots of time with the Lord – You become what you worship. Think about the closest relationships in your life. How did they impact you? What common traits (like it or not) do you share with your family or even closest friends? If godliness is reflecting the character traits of God, it stands to reason that the more time we spend with him the more we will become like him. This means intentional as well as increased time in the Word and on our knees. It is not however just doing more “God stuff”. It’s learning to have a relationship with him. It’s learning to listen more than we speak. It’s applying greater times of silence and solitude into our week. None of us have a ton of time, but if we are going to be intentional about being with Jesus lets be honest, we all have more time than we think, or care to admit.
2. Seek input from mature Christians – Here’s something we all shy away from. Asking other Christians to assess our lives. Sure we have accountability groups and partners, but these are just people we get together with, call or email just so we can tell them how we think we are doing according to our own self assessments. If you really want to grow in godliness the following has to happen: a. listen to fewer voices b. listen to the right voices (ie don’t ask unbelieving or immature friends about being more Christ like) c. give one mature believer in your life the authority to speak into you and then submit to their counsel. Be ruthlessly honest with them and ask them to be the same with you.
3. Repent quickly and fully – When you know you’ve not embodied in the gospel confess it. Your repentance should include everyone involved. For example, I spoke unkindly to my wife at a church event and was lovingly confronted by another man in the church about it. The Holy Spirit laid on my heart the need to repent to the other men who where present in the room, even a few who had no idea or saw no wrong in what I said. Don’t sweep any sin under the carpet, it’ll make your life bumpy. Don’t sugar coat ungodliness either, don’t make it less than it is. Its sin, it WILL impact your walk and witness.
4. Rely on Grace – It’s easy to be overly hard on ourselves when it comes to godliness. Just like we are far to easy on ourselves when it comes to holiness, we are equally, if not more, harsh on ourselves when it comes to Gods grace. Before you beat yourself up remember Gods grace. Repentance needs to be followed by Belief. Just as we need to quickly and honestly acknowledge our sin, we also need to turn to the Cross reminding ourselves of the Fathers love for us in Jesus. Sin condemns, God convicts. Every time the Spirit points out sin, he does so in light of our Saviors love. When the Lord commands godliness he also provides grace to bring see it through.
I would have given up long ago if I wasn’t being reminded that I am saved by grace not my good works. This is why one of the best things you can do is study the gospel; in particular the doctrines of grace. (See Knowledge)
Increasing Your Hope
Christians of all people should be persons of hope. We worship the God of Hope. We have heard the good news of Hope. We have staked our lives in the resurrection of Jesus, the validation of Hope. Your joy depends on hope and in Christ we have the hope of eternal life, rooted in the gospel and resting in the risen and ruling King of all hope, Jesus Christ.
1. Learn God’s Promises – The bible is filled with Gods promises and here is the good news; The Lord keeps every one of them! There is nothing he has guaranteed that he has not been faithful to bring about. He is trustworthy, true and able. A great bible study you could do on your own or with others to is go through scripture looking into all the promises of God. This will grow your knowledge, your faith and your hope.
2. Live God’s Promises – You can bank on God’s promises. That’s why investing in the kingdom gives a sure fire return. If the Lord has told us he will do something, we should walk in that confidence. If he says he will never leave us, then that means he is always with us. He if says he will take care of your needs, than you can confidently enter into what he is asking of you. Faith is trust in God, his person and his promises.
3. Pray God’s Promises – I believe God enjoys being reminded of his promises. Not that he forgets, but we do. Throughout scripture we see godly men and women crying out to God and reminding him of what he said he would do. My own prayer life has tremendously benefited from learning to pray to the Father according to his promises. For example: He says it is his desire to save people and that it brings him joy when sinners come to Christ, so I ask the Lord to rescue people because he said he wants to not simply cause I do. I ask him to save friends and family because it will not only make me happy, but because it makes him happy.
4. Share God’s Promises – We live in an age of hopelessness and despair. There is not a person without a need for hope. Trouble is, most of the things we look to for hope are just as empty as the last thing that let us down. The people among whom God has placed you need to hear about Jesus, and the message we share needs to include the promises and the hope of God. We need to extend not just tell them the good news of Christ. We need to also invite them into hope, into repentance and faith the two sides of hopes door.
Who do you know that needs to hear through you the hope of the gospel? The bonus to us is that as you share hope with others you are reminded of it yourself.
One more thing. These areas all build upon each other (Faith, knowledge, godliness & hope) Faith in Jesus, followed by an increase in knowledge of God and the gospel, leading to a life of godliness, rooted and sustained in an ever-increasing hope. Additionally as we “work out” these areas we need to take a balanced approach. Otherwise we are like the guys at the gym who are all arms and no legs, or all legs and no upper body strength, or worse yet the ripped dude with no lasting stamina.
Lastly, as the Spirit begins to show you the area you need to give attention to, a good piece of advice is to begin with the area that precedes your perceived area of growth. In other words if you are wanting to grow in godliness begin by increasing your knowledge. As you study scripture you will learn what God is like as well as what God wants. Growing in an understanding of grace motivates growing in godliness and so on. As you act in response to God’s commands and live according to God’s promises you will experience transformation, which will increase your hope, and so on.
Remember it’s a process; be patient and be prayerful. Looking back over the years, the results of God’s faithfulness and grace will will astound you.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope – Romans 15:13