Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shepastor: "Why Did You Leave Me Here?"

Titus 1: 1-5 (NLT)

1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to[a] those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. 2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. 3 And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him. 4 I am writing to Titus, my true son in the faith that we share. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace.

Titus’s Work in Crete
5 I left you on the island of Crete so you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town as I instructed you.

“Titus” is believed to have been written by the Apostle Paul, to one of his pastoral friends, Titus. Upon his release from prison in Rome for preaching the Gospel, Paul and several of his missionary friends traveled to the Greek Island of Crete to establish churches. Paul was a “church planter.” He didn’t stay places for very long. He was responsible, however. He didn’t just up and leave. Instead he mentored, taught and thoroughly prepared others to continue the work he began upon his departure. This Epistle, “Titus” encourages this young pastor, “Titus,” to lay a strong foundation of truth, through teaching and exemplifying what it means to live a godly and obedient life before God. Titus is one of the “Pastoral Epistles,” along with I & II Timothy.

But in our particular text, Paul tells Titus why he is leaving him there in Crete: “So that you could complete our work there and appoint elders in each town...”as he instructed him.

“Why Did You Leave Me Here?”
Crete was a large Greek Island in the Mediterranean Sea. Although heavily populated by Jews, it was believed to be a training center for Roman soldiers. Paganism was a major influence in the region. Those who had been converted to Christianity had to contend with the lure, the temptations, the heavy sinful influences as well as plethora of false teachings that were prevailing in that day.

Paul wanted to ensure that Titus understood why he was leaving him there – “to straighten out what was left and to appoint elders in every town.” In other words, things were still in a mess in Crete. The church was planted, it was started, the foundation was being laid, but some things still needed to be “straightened out.” No doubt, Titus, a young pastor, still “wet behind the ears,” may have been nervous. He may have begun to doubt whether or not he had what it took to deal with all that was happening in the midst.

He may have begun to ask his mentor Paul, “why in the world are you leaving me here?” Paul’s answer, “to straighten out some things.” Have you ever found yourself asking, “why did you leave me here?” Why did you leave me to deal with this mess? Why did you leave me to handle these issues? Why did you leave me to try and teach folks that act like they don’t want to be taught? Lord, why did you leave me here? And The Lord says, “I want you to teach some things, model some things, spread my truth, show them the right way…I want you to straighten out some things!”

Sometimes God deliberately places us in the midst of some mess because He wants to use us to help straighten it out. Sometimes God places us in situations that are dark so that His light can shine brightly through us. Sometimes God places us in situations that are filled with lies so that His truth can shine forth. Sometimes God places us in situations where there is hate so that through us, His love may abound.

The other day I heard a music artist talk about how God used some people in his life to teach him the real meaning of godliness and unconditional love. He said that he lied to them, borrowed money that he never intended to pay back, used them and in his words, abused them. But they never stopped showing him unconditional love. He said the fact that they continued to show him the love of Christ, drew him to the Savior.

I am not suggesting that you should allow yourself to be abused, but there will be times a Christian, Jesus said, that we will have to love those that hate us and pray for those that despitefully use us. Titus was left in Crete – a paganistic, hedonistic, wicked place to teach the truth of the Gospel. Jesus said they that are whole don’t need a physician, but they that are sick. The Lord sometimes leaves us in places to “set some thing straight.” Somebody needs to know that God’s love is real. Somebody needs to know that there is a bright side somewhere. Somebody needs to know that we can be more than conquerors, that we can be overcomers that we can rise up above our situations and circumstances and somebody has to be left to tell folks so!

Lord, why did you leave me here? You are “here” for a reason. God wants to use you to teach the truth of the Gospel – that Jesus is not dead, but He is alive. That he can take you just as you are. That He doesn’t care about how many times you’ve messed up, how many times you fallen down, how filthy and dirty you may be – Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you. Jesus is coming back for you! Jesus is real!

God has you where you are to be a living epistle.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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