At the beginning of our worship service we recognized 9 of the 13 the children born in 2008 to members of our church family. As I look at those children I see incredible potential. They will experience more changes in their life time than we can ever imagine. It is possible by the time they become adults the landscape of our culture will drastically change.
I am not a prophet, nor do I claim to be a prophet, but I believe these children will see things we thought we would never see…
I believe they will see a moral decay of our culture as homosexuals are given the right to marry and moral absolutes give way to individual rights.
I believe they will see a cheapening of human life as abortions, euthanasia, slavery and religious persecutions become more common place.
I believe they will see new technologies in health and medicine attempting to make life better and easier, yet people will still search for significance
I believe they will experience difficulty in trying to stay pure in an impure world.
With all the changes that will occur, I wonder if they will find a faithful church in the future.
Have you thought about the future of our church? It is amazing how we make plans everyday for events that are at times far off with no thought about what may happen.
In preparing for this message, I took a quick glance at my calendar and realized I have an event planned for May. 2013; that is little over 3 years away.
We should be knowledgeable about the future. Charles Kettering said “We should all be concerned about the future – because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.”
The NT writer James reminds, Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15
It is important to plan for the future, but those plans must be seen in light of God’s will. What would God want for us, what does God desire for us. Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Study the Bible and you see men planning for the future
Moses – Joshua
Elijah – Elisha
Jesus – Disciples
How are we doing planning the future for the next generation? I think we are well on our way. The More than we can Imagine Campaign is a great start as we seek to reduce the debt and add much needed staff.
However a campaign is not enough, we must constantly be forward thinking so our children will find a faithful church.
The apostle Paul was a man who was constantly concerned about the future of the church. As he established churches, he kept his eyes open for a person who could carry on the work after he moved on.
On the tiny island of Crete, an island that had the reputation for gluttons, liars and cheats, the gospel had found a beachhead. Through the preaching of the gospel Paul was able to establish a church.
However, the nature of his ministry required him to leave Crete, so he had to find some one to continue the ministry. That person was Titus. If the church was to continue, Titus would have to carry on the work of leading the church in Crete. For that reason Paul writes him a letter telling him what he must do to ensure the future of the church at Crete.
He tells his young apprentice 3 things he must do to plan for the future. These 3 items are applicable to us as well.
Understand the background
Paul is giving a series of instructions to Titus regarding several groups of people
Finally he turns his attention to the young me of the church and gives these instructions to Titus. (TITUS 2:6)
6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Here Paul gives Titus 3 applicable points to ensure the future of the church.
1. Develop Young Believers.
One thing we do know about the future of our church it will rest in the hands of the people who are under 35 years of age. 25 years from now our present leadership will no longer be leading our church.
That is why Paul told Timothy, And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 2 Timothy 2:2
The idea of passing the baton from generation to generation is imperative if we are to have a future. The focus of the church must be to develop the faith of our young people and those who are young in the faith.
How is this to be accomplished?
First by encouraging self-control vs. 6
The first item of developing young believers is to encourage them to be people of self-control, Note Paul does not say teach them to be self-controlled but we are to encourage. To encourage literally means to “Lift One Up” Carries with it the idea of helping someone over a wall. Encouragement begins with a lifestyle where we desire to help people – An overzealous preacher felt it was his calling to “make” people become Christians. One day he sat on a city bus and determined he would confront the next person in his sin and thus they would repent and become a Christian. The next passenger on the bus was a drunk who had spent the last few hours intoxicated. The preacher sprang to his feet and shook his large black Bible at the drunk and said – “Did you know you are headed to Hell? The drunk replied –“Oh no, I am on the wrong bus again!” THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED TO BE TOLD IT IS GOING TO HELL; THE WORLD NEEDS TO BE SHOWN HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN.
Encouragement is to offer help to people by lifting them up. In a world that is constantly bombarding us with negativity, pain and destruction – encouragement is one of the best gifts we can offer to young believers.
Therefore we encourage them to be people of SELF-CONTROL. Paul told Titus the region they lived in was out of control. I said at the beginning of my message the region was known for its troubling lifestyle. The island of Crete had the reputation for gluttons, liars and cheats – It was the ancient world’s Las Vegas.
As this new church began to take hold in Crete people were attracted to the believer’s lifestyle of self control in out of controlled world. What a great witness it was for the island of Crete to see Christians living not for self, but for God. They had replaced their carnal nature with a spiritual nature.
The word self-control literally means “level headed” or “God controlled”
There is always disaster when one lacks self control.
In the Arctic, the Eskimos have devised a clever way of hunting wolves. They take a knife and dip it into a seal’s blood and allow the blood to freeze, then they do it again and again until they have created a blood popsicle. The knife is then placed in the snow. The wolves in the area are then aroused by the smell of blood, once they discover the “blood popsicle” they begin to lick at it. Eventually the wolf gets down to the knife, but by then he has lost all control and he continues to lick the blood, even though the knife has now cut him, he continues licking up his own blood. Within hours the wolf bleeds to death – Because of the lack of self – control.
This graphic illustration shows why we need to encourage young believers in the area of self-control. Thus we need to help them make…
Good moral choices – Holiness is not a good idea but a command of God, holiness simply means to be set apart
Be distinctiveness in their lifestyle – Salt and Light
We must teach to go counter to a culture that simply says the chief aim is to feel good, rather the chief aim is to please God by doing and being good.
That leads us to the second way we prepare for the future.
2. Mature believers must set an example vs. 7
If our children and young believers are to have faith, we have a responsibility to them. The beauty of the church is we live in community with one another.
Paul tells Titus the best way mature believers set the example for others is by doing what is good.
Several months ago, Christianity Today asked the question “Who was the most admired Christian in America today?” The overwhelming response; Billy Graham. Graham was then asked in the article, “How does Satan attack you?” Graham responded in three areas PRIDE, MORALITY & FINANCES
Graham went on to say understanding Satan’s attack I have put several moral fences up in my life.
Never seen in a car all by myself with a woman unless it was with my wife, Ruth.
I accept no money from the Billy Graham Evangelistic ministry other than a salary
I never enter a hotel room first or alone
I remind myself daily that if I fall into sin – I will dishonor the name of Christ.
Graham’s example is one worthy of following.
If we are going to develop future leaders we must set the example
In your teaching show integrity. The word teaching can carry with it two ideas. First is the idea of instruction, the other is that of lifestyle. Question for all of us, “Does what you say match up with what you do?”
Seriousness and soundness of speech. I am told that every woman speaks 10,000 words a day while every man speaks only 5,000. Now while there is a difference in the amount of the words we may use, there is to be no difference in how we use our words. Soundness of speech – means to be sure of what we say. I am amazed at some of the things I hear come out of people’s mouth’s today. Character assignation, hatred, envy, and bitterness seem to be the norm, however believers are told to guard our conversation.
Ephesians 4:15, Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
Colossians 4:6, Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Proverbs 22:11, He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
Ephesians 4:29-31, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Proverbs 12:22, The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.
Proverbs 6:16-19, There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
I think the Lord is pretty serious about how we use our speech. If we are going to lead in an example the very first thing we must do is watch our speech.
Another way we set an example is by “Doing good” – LISTEN; now we are not saved by our good works, but good works are evidence of our salvation. Therefore we should always strive to do good. For our actions do speak – Former NY Yankee, Joe DiMaggio had a custom of running to first base after receiving a base on balls. Once he was asked why did he do such a thing – his reply. “Somebody may be watching me for the first time, and I don’t want to disappoint them. Would we have all have that kind of desire when it comes to doing good for Christ? – O, SOMEBODY IS WATCHING.
Paul now switches from what we should do to how we should prepare.
3. Prepare for Opposition
Understand if we begin to develop young believers and if we begin to set an example to and for others – there will be opposition.
We need to understand where the opposition will come from
Some opposition will come from the world
People will say “who are you to judge what is right or wrong” or “You cannot tell people how to live”
Worldly opposition has a way of making us withdraw, we become like a turtle, sticking our necks out only when we feel safe and secure.
Some opposition, sadly will come from the religious world
Look at Jesus – John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Why is the religious world critical of one another? Do they not know we are part of God’s kingdom
Some opposition will come from the government
We are fortunate to live in country free to worship, but let us remember when Paul was writing Titus, there would soon be a persecution from Rome which would stand against everything which Christ had taught. Paul’s advice to Titus was not to run from opposition but to prepare for opposition.
What is the key to handling opposition?
Vs 8, live in such a way that those who oppose you will be ashamed because they have nothing to say.
Folks our church has a future – Our future can be dismal, we can wring our hands and look back and say those were the days and try to keep the past alive. Or we can follow the example of Titus
Develop young believers
Mature believers can set the example
Prepare to be opposed.
God is concerned about the future of our church as well, but more than our future he is concerned about our present condition.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you."
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
Yore future is determined by what you do in the present – don’t wait for to change in the future – it may not come.