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Summary: Five areas that believers will be challenged by in 2011

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As we begin another new year, what are you looking forward to? Every sports team, at the beginning of a new season, looks optimistically to the possibility of winning the championship. The media talks to the general manager, who has been trading players for players, buying some, selling some, promoting some from the minor leagues to the major leagues, all in the hope that he will bring the right mix of talent to garner that pennant.

Then they interview the head coach, and he’s optimistic about the team’s chances to perform well. He’s assembled what he considers to be the right assistant coaches and managers that will evaluate the talent of individual players, report on their strengths and weaknesses, and with the right amount of coaching bring each player to his optimum ability to produce a championship team.

And then the season begins and the wins and losses are totaled up and we see whether or not all that effort at trading, buying and selling players paid off; we see whether or not all those hours spent coaching the players paid off. And there always seems to be an element of luck, that moment when something happens that shouldn’t happen, when something surprises everyone and the team finishes on top of their sport.

Are we Christians like that sometime? As the new year begins, do we optimistically expect that something new and exciting will hap-pen in this new year, that something will be different, new, exciting, and challenging? Or do we secretly hope that the status quo will be maintained and we will continue doing what we’ve been doing with little or no change or challenge to change?

For me, every Sunday is filled with hope and expectation that something will be different. I open the door to this auditorium and expect to see new faces, unfamiliar faces, and I do. In our Bible study class I expect to hear different voices, different views, different opinions, and certainly vocal contributions from everyone.

In our scripture passage from Titus 2, Paul reveals to each of us five ways that we can adorn our lives with the doctrine of God. The doctrine of God is found throughout the Bible. What is a doctrine? A principle or body of principles presented for acceptance or belief; so, the doctrine of God is a group of principles about God that people believe.

Five Ways to Adorn Your Life

“Exhort bond-servants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our savior in all things.” (Titus 2:9-10)

The island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea was known for its corruption and many false gods. It was also the center of the jewelry trade. Paul’s use of the word adorn in our scripture today is probably intentional and certainly would speak to the people of Crete who were involved in jewelry making and selling.

Titus and the believers in Crete were challenged by Paul to adorn their lives with the doctrine of God. Whenever you are challenged by an environment that is corrupt and ungodly, you have an opportunity to let your light shine before those in that culture. The greater the corruption, the greater your light can shine. It is not a time to flee, it is a time to shine brighter.

1. Be obedient to their masters

Not everyone in the first century was a free Roman like Paul. Christianity has always held an appeal for those who were not of the higher, elite, well-educated classes. Throughout his letters to the churches and to individuals, Paul made frequent references to those who were living in the homes of well-to-do families as slaves and servants.

In Philemon, Paul talked of the runaway slave, Onesimus, and the ministry he had performed for Paul. Paul was sending him back to his owner, Philemon, and urging forgiveness for the runaway slave. Many believers were slaves; many believers were slave owners. Paul always insisted that the slaves be obedient to their masters.

For those who work, being obedient means being obedient to those who manage and supervise us. For everyone it means being obedient to God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are to submit to whatever authorities there are in our lives.

2. Be well-pleasing in all things

In other words, do your work with excellence. I’ve told the story before about the airplane final assembly plant in Palmdale, haven’t I? That’s when Lockheed was still producing its L-1011 airplane. The plant in Palmdale was the final assembly point and check ride before they turned a plane over to the airline that had purchased it.

Well, our custodian at Olivet, Bob, was a former worker at that plant. He would tell me tales about those planes and how the individual sections would arrive in Palmdale for that final assembly. Many times whole sections of wings, fuselage, or other parts had to be wholly repaired before they were assemble and tested for their airworthiness. Made me shudder a little bit every time I got on an L-1011 to take a trip somewhere.

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