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Living "Between the Times"
Scripture: Titus 2:11-14
Track 26 of 27 in the Transforming Story As God Gave It series
Running time: 22 minutes, 42 seconds.
Beginning of "Fam-Fest," a week-long whole-family vacation bible school.

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Brent McCrory Speaker: Brent McCrory
Brent is an intern at Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

June 25, 2006 - Living Between the Times

Will you pray with me as we start the sermon time? Lord, we love you so much, God. I know I canít speak for anybody else here this morning but it did my heart good to have that time in praise of you and it did my heart so good to see those little kids come out here and sing their praises to you. And God, kids are so precious and I know they are so precious to their parents, and Lord, I pray for them that they would grow up and that they would only grow in their love for you, Lord, and that would never grow old to them. Lord, we thank you for your word and I pray for this time. I pray for myself as I deliver this message and for the audience that we could be attentive because itís your word and itís your word that is powerful and it needs to be the focal point of our lives. We pray all this in Jesusí name, amen.

I got to thinking about something this past week and I was thinking about how as humans one of the sadder things I think that characterizes us is that many times in our lives something that was once new and exciting becomes kind of old and routine to us. It can clearly be seen in the life of a child at Christmas time, for example, when they get a new toy and theyíre excited about that new toy and so they play with it for awhile and their old favorite toy becomes just thatĖitís their old favorite toy so itís maybe not played with as much any more. But itís not simply a childhood phenomenon because it happens to adults as well. Many times an adult will take a new job because thatís a new promising job, something that would be exciting to them but after a couple of years or maybe even after a month or so that job starts to lose some of its newness and excitement. It can be seen with a new pair of shoes or a new necklace or a new power tool for that example, something that is new and exciting until they get it and they after using it for awhile, the newness starts to wear off and so they go and search for something else that it new and exciting. I was thinking of that and itís really so unfortunate when things become old to us and theyíre not exciting any more. And tied in with that I believe thereís absolutely nothing sadder than when the good news of the gospel becomes old hat to us.

Go ahead and open you bibles this morning if you would please to Titus chapter 2. Verses 11-14 is the text this morning. It says, ďfor the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live so controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for a blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.Ē And really thatís the gospel in a condensed form, in a nutshell if you will, but yet itís so sad when the good news of the gospel even becomes old hat for us.

As you can tell this morning, as itís been noticed, and weíve had the video and the kids have sung this morning, things are different here at Madison Park this morning. Itís the start of FamFest this week and the theme for FamFest is Heroes Unmasked. And theyíre going to take a different biblical character and theyíre going to unmask that person for the hero that they were for Godís people throughout history. And I got to thinking about that and I got to thinking about the superhero movies that have been coming out over the last three, four, or five years and thereís been Spiderman, The Hulk, The X-Men, Fantastic Four, theyíre just coming out with the new Superman, they did Batman again last summer. And I talk with people about these superhero movies from time to time and it seems that a common theme that comes up is theyíre excited about the movies because it gives us something to feel good about. They say America needs more superhero movies because we need something that we can feel good about. I think about that and Iím like, yea, that sounds pretty cool. After all, I go see them and I like them. And then I get to thinking that boy, thatís a pretty shallow statement. Itís a shallow statement because that superhero movie is not going to help a family who loses a child in an auto accident. Itís not going to help the little kid or the high schooler or even a college student for that matter, if they find out that their parents are going to be getting a divorce. But what would help in those situations I fear sometimes has become so old hat to us that it really doesnít have the power and effect it once had on our lives. And so I say again itís a shame when the glorious news of the gospel becomes old hat to us. And we need for the gospel not to be old had for us because we need a clear picture of who Jesus is. H. G. Wells is a famous historian and he said the following: ďIím an historian, Iím not a believer, but I must confess as an historian this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.Ē Napoleon Bonaparte said that ďAlexander, Cesear, Charlamagne and I myself have founded great empires but Jesus alone founded his empire on love. Unto this very day millions would die for him. Jesus Christ is more than a man.Ē I think those are some really interesting statements, especially the last part that Jesus Christ was more than a man because thatís what the bible says about him, too. But itís such a shame when the glorious news of the gospel has become old hat to us.

Paul puts it this way in Titus 2:11 which weíve already read. He says for the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people. And I realize that Jesusí name is not mentioned in that specific verse there, but thereís no mistake about what Paul is talking about. Heís talking about that grace coming and giving us salvation and we know that our salvation comes through Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:6 that I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. And right there thatís a very exclusive statement that here in Titus Paul says that that grace has appeared bringing salvation for all people. And so we just remind ourselves of what we already know, but the world needs to know that Christianity is not a narrow-minded and bigoted religion. Itís available to everybody, but itís through that one person, Jesus, the grace that appeared, grace just being simply something that we have not done to earn. Itís something that is freely given to us. Paul continues in verse 12: ďtraining us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.Ē And here we have such a beautiful picture and truth about Godís grace and what it really is because here we see a picture of Godís grace where he loves us so, so very much right where weíre at but he loves us too much to just let us simply stay there. This grace, it trains us and the word picture there for training is the word picture of an adult raising up a child. Itís a word that was used for training up children so that they would grow up to live properly. And I think about how appropriate of an image that is because as Christians, as believers, we are Godís children and so we have that tender picture of Godís grace training us. It trains us to renounce things that are ungodly and worldly passions. Thatís something that a lot of us know. Weíre not to do a lot of things as Christians, but itís not the things that we donít do that distinguish us. Itís the things that we do in fact do that distinguish us as Christians. Paul says this training takes place in three levels. He says that we are to live self controlled which is how we relate to ourselves, our own person integrity, the way we act and behave when thereís nobody else around but us and we know we can get away with whatever we want to do but yet we have self control because weíve been trained and so we donít do certain things. Weíre also trained to live upright, meaning how we interact with other people on a day-to-day basis. And godly lives which relates to our relationship with God. So weíre to train to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives and all those are separate but yet theyíre intertwined because you canít really have one without the others, and they feed each other. Itís interesting, this passage is in Titus and Titus is used a lot of times to refer to, for the selection of overseers, as Paul puts it in verse 6 of chapter 1, or what we have here at Madison Park as elders. And please do not misunderstand me because that is a very, very crucial and important role and scripture is clear as to what the qualifications of elders are and we need to abide by those and we do here. But the interesting thing is that if you read through the qualifications for an elder, and Iíll just read in verse 8 for example, that an elder is to be hospitable, a lover of good, self controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined among other things. And that sounds familiar because in verse 12 thatís what Godís grace came to train us how to live, live to be self controlled, live to be upright. That teaching is not confined just to simply the elders because you can read through Titus and you can see how the older men and the younger men and the older women and the younger women were all to live in these ways. All of Godís people are to be trained in the present age. Itís for now. Itís not for sometime in the future, itís not for when you get out of college and get married, and then oh, weíll have some kids and they maybe weíll settle down because it will be important to raise our kids in the church. Godís grace appeared to train us for living now in the present age. But itís so tragic when weíve heard that so many times that the good news of the gospel becomes old hat to us.

Paul continues in verse 13. He tells us we are waiting for a blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. And here what heís saying is that weíre just simply living between the times. Weíre living between the time when Jesus died and was resurrected and ascended to God and when heís coming back. Weíre in between that time frame. And we have no idea when heís coming back. Heís been gone for 2,000 years. It could be another 2,000 years before he comes back, it could be later this week. We just simply donít know. And Paul says that weíre waiting for a hope and I think of how I use hope a lot of times, or I used to use hope in my daily vocabulary, and itís more like a wish. Like, oh I hope that itís sunny today or I hope that the coach doesnít make us run, you know, 20 extra sprints because we messed up or something like that. Hope for us is many times a wishful thinking event. But biblical hope is more of an expectation of something that is going to come to pass because God is trustworthy. Heís always kept his word for all time. And so our hope is based on his trustworthiness to us. But some people will say oh Jesus, heís been back for 2,000 years and heís not coming back. It reminds me of this story that I heard of this coupleís first date. Weíll call them John and Amy. They were both excited about it. Theyíd been friends for awhile and the day of the date came and Amy gets all ready. She does her hair up all nice and pretty and puts on some makeup. She even had a new outfit to put on to look good for John. And sheís all ready and sheís so excited that 20 minutes go by and she doesnít even realize that John is late. And sheís saying well, he probably had some car problems or something. No big deal. Well, 40 minutes go by and heís still not there. Then after an hour, she gets kinda dejected and figures he must have just stood me up. So she goes back to her room and takes off her makeup and puts on her pajamas and lets her hair down and everything and basically gets unready, raids the cupboards for the junk food and the frig for some comfort food and sits down to watch tv with her dog. About 20 minutes go by and her favorite show starts and then half way through the show the door bell rings. So she gets up and walks to the front door and there standing wide-eyed was John. And heís just staring at her in disbelief and he says I am 2 hours late and you are still not ready? And you know, we chuckle at that and thatís funny, but the thing is, if youíve been a believer for long Iím sure youíve heard since the day you were first a believer that Jesus is coming back one day. And one day all things will be new and be made right. So weíve heard that so many times, but itís so tragic when the precious news of the gospel becomes old hat to us.

In the third skit portraying Josiah, Josiah was talking about the Passover feast and how theyíre remembering that and how God had been so good to them and how God had saved them from death. That account of the first Passover is in Exodus 12 where God sends a plague that the Hebrew people are saved from because theyíre obedient to God and he delivers them out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, which by the way, is an extreme act of grace. Sometimes as Christians we get things misconstrued in our minds and we think that grace is simply a new testament thing and it never happened in the old testament. But there is grace all throughout the old testament. One of the more striking images of grace, if you want to go ahead and turn to Exodus 19. The Egyptian people were slaves in the land of Egypt. They were in bondage and they were in slavery. But God wanted to free them so that they could go worship him. And those are basically the same Hebrew word with different vowels. So they were in bondage and they were in slavery for their whole lives and God was setting them free so that they could go serve him which is an act of worship. And thatís what he does for us. He frees us from our bondage and our sins so we can be free and go worship and serve him. After the first Passover in Exodus 19, itís three months later and then they come to the base of Mt. Sinai and God says in verse 4 ďyou yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eaglesí wings and brought you to myself. Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples for all the earth is mine.Ē You shall be my treasured possession among all people for all the earth is mine. And that should sound somewhat familiar to what weíve already read in Titus verse 14 about Jesus who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Heís using the same words there. In the old testament itís the word ďsegula.Ē Iím saying that because Iím certain you guys have heard that from this pulpit before, that the Hebrew people were Godís treasured possession. And thereís a Greek word for that also in the Greek translation of the old testament and the only time that that is ever used in the entire new testament is right here by Paul in verse 14 of chapter 2. †And so itís as if Paul who was Jewish is thinking in his mind about this radical change that has taken place in history because of what Jesus has come and done and he reaches back into history in his mind to the formation of the Hebrew people as a nation. And he pulls that imagery all the way forward to the new testament and he tells the Christians, he tells Titus, the people that he is writing to on the island of Crete that you are now Godís treasured possession. The imagery is all there of the Passover. Jesus who gave himself to redeem us or to buy us back from something and to purify for himself a people of his own possession who are zealous for good works.

And so my question is what are you doing to show that youíve been redeemed? Itís a question for me, too. Weíre to be zealous for good works. Thatís what the Hebrew people were to be and to. They were to live their lives in such a way that the nations around them, when theyíd come in the promised land, would see that they lived a true God, a living God who was blessing them and be influenced by that and become followers of that God as well. Thatís what Deuteronomy, chapter 4 says. In Isaiah 49 they were to be a light to the nations, meaning all people. The Jewish people werenít saved, they didnít become Godís treasured possession just simply for the sake of salvation. They became his treasured possession for service to God which is the exact same thing for us today. Weíve not been shown grace just for the simply fact that God wants to give his grace away and weíre just to be black holes and absorb it all. We are shown grace for the fact of being trained, being trained to be zealous for good works. But itís not that those works save us because Paul is clear about that in verses 4 - 7 of chapter 3. We are saved not because of works done by us in righteousness but because of the mercy of God by the washing regeneration and renewal of the holy spirit and then in verse 7 he says that so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs in the hope of eternal life. And those good works as so important because when Paul was writing this letter to Titus on the island of Crete, Crete was a mess. It was a port city. Nothing against, Iím not trying to stereotype sailors, but a lot of sailors were there, a lot of immorality. Among other things there was in verse 11, chapter 1, there was teaching going on that was upsetting whole families, destroying whole families. And so I ask you guys today, what does our society do and teach? Things that upset whole families. And we donít have the time to go into what all those things are, but the reason why the good works are so important is because people need to know the truth. They need to be shown how to live. But itís so disgraceful when the good news of the gospel becomes old hat to us.

And so, what we need to do as Christians is open ourselves up to the saving grace of God and allow ourselves to be trained. And thatís whatís so important about, for example, FamFest this week because we need godly dads and godly moms and godly families to raise up godly kids to combat what this culture says. With FamFest this week I asked Kimberly what some of the goals were with it just so I could kind of wrap my head around it a little bit more. And she talked about some of the things that are facing families today is that they donít spend time together enough to eat together. They donít worship together, they donít play together, they donít learn together. And so each night at FamFest this week thereís going to be a meal to start off, thereís going to be a time of worship, thereís going to be a recreation time where youíre active with your kids and not just simply watching their sporting event, but youíre physically participating with them. And youíre learning. And those are the type of things that we need to do to raise up godly families. And it complements wonderfully the mission statement of the Kidz Zone. It says to complement each familyís attempt to lay a spiritual foundation that in Godí timing will each child into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And the wording in that is so important because it says to complement each familyís attempt, assuming that thereís already action being done. I donít know how many of you notice this or not when you woke up this morning when you looked in your bulletin but today is June 25, obviously. It says that in the bulletin. The interesting thing is that this is the half-way point to Christmas, December 25, and not to the jump the gun or anything like that, but we know what we do at Christmas time, right? We give gifts and we receive gifts but thatís based on what verse 11 says in Titus, for the grace of God has appeared, the epiphany, the coming of Jesus. And God is so gracious to us and he gives us so much and so what weíre going to do this morning is take some time and give something back to him because we are trained to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. And so around the worship center are Christmas gift boxes with little slits in the top of them and there are pieces of paper and pens and pencils. And so what I would encourage you to do is, weíre going to be singing a song or after the worship time, for example, is to take a concrete step of something that you can do to live a more self-controlled, upright. and godly life. Write it on the piece of paper, drop it in the slit, and then maybe since it is FamFest week, share that with your kids. Kids, share it with your parents. And work together as a family of being a family unit that glorifies God.