Listen Live at 5:00pm EST – Survey of the Book of Titus

Paul’s letter to Titus is one of the most helpful guides for church life. On Tuesday at 5:00 I will be teaching through this book. Titus was a Greek convert, and pastor on the island of Crete. It was famous for laziness, relational tumults and immorality. Paul instructed Titus to put things in order in the churches.

Join us live at 5:00pm EST here:
http://ift.tt/2aWZbBv

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Fear of God Devotional: Training Children to Know the Fear of God



How can we help our children to understand the fear of God?

It is incredibly important for parents to train their children to have a fear of God. As parents, we should be helping and encouraging them to grow in this knowledge, even at a young age. However, this may be a difficult concept for children to grasp initially.

Joel Beeke explains that to help children understand what the fear of God means, he tells them that the fear of God means that you value the smiles of God more than the smiles of people, even that of your parents. Also, you value the frowns of God rather than the frowns of people.

Colossians 3:23 (NKJV) – “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,”

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Let the Church Become a True Family Again

In the last 150 years a massive shift occurred in church and family life, completely changing the sociology of the church. This resulted in shifting the discipleship methodology from a biblical model to a secular model patterned after public education and youth culture. This was unprecedented in the history of the church. It was so different that it transformed the nature of church discipleship, the discipleship agenda of the family, and even the entire way the family related to the church. It actually transformed the structure of the family. It was truly a mega-shift. But it happened so slowly that almost nobody noticed. What happened?  Discipleship in the church gradually became age segregated, where the duties assigned to the family were handed off to church workers. 

Why is the modern church age segregated? Why are the teenagers almost always worshipping and learning separately from the adults? Why are the senior citizens separated from the younger generation? Who thought it was a good idea for thirteen- to sixteen-year-olds to develop their own culture? Why is it that, in most churches today, the whole organizational structure is based on age segregation? The answer is simple: we have set aside the practices of the Word of God for the sake of our traditions.

If we had the Bible alone

If we only had the Bible as our guide, would children be separated from their parents during the meetings of the church? Would we set up children’s church? Is there any biblical explicit evidence for nurseries? Did the apostles ever organize a Sunday school, a youth rally, or any kind of age-segregated gathering? Are there any commands or examples to follow in Scripture for age segregation? Of course, the answer to all of these questions is no. The disciples suffered rebuke from their Master for trying to keep the children away. Let us bring our children back into the meetings of the church in the way that is consistent with both the Old and New Testaments.

The current design for discipleship breaks the church into a fragmented sociology of interests and ages. It creates new sub-cultures. It actually raises a social structure that stands in sharp contrast to Scripture, as the following chapters will illustrate. The real problem, however, is that it matches poorly with the clearly communicated contours of Scripture.

How do we make our way back to a biblical model of discipleship in the church and family? We must return to the beautiful design for the church.

God’s ways are beautiful

Think about how God has ordered His people in the church.  He makes them a “family” (Matthew 12:49-50; 1 Corinthians 1:10), “a body” (Ephesians 1:22-23), a “building” (1 Peter 2:5), a “flock” (Acts 20:28), a people for God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9). He gathers people from every tongue, tribe and nation, as brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers in the faith. He brings them together as “one body” (Romans 12:4-5). They are a spiritual family. He brings them together rather than separating them according to age. This is His beautiful design. It is beautiful in so many ways.

Imagine with me a church without a generation gap. The whole family worships together. Marrieds and singles and old and young and people from whole families and broken families worship together. A little child hears the singing and preaching while in his father’s or mother’s arms. This is a church where the biblical pattern of age-integrated discipleship is practiced.

Imagine a church, like the churches in Ephesus and Colossae, where it is assumed that the oldest to the youngest are involved together in discipleship, worship, celebration, and service (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20).

Imagine a church where fathers and mothers are daily fulfilling their responsibility to teach their children the Word of God in their homes. 

Imagine a church where the excesses of youth culture are minimized and teenagers are growing wiser by walking through life with the older members of the church. 

Imagine a church where every fatherless boy or girl worships and serves alongside mature spiritual fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers. 

Imagine a church where groups of all ages talk together and minister to one another.  

Imagine a church where the older teach the younger, the younger appreciate the older, and the older are energized and motivated by the youth.

This is a church where Scripture is sufficient for the discipleship of all ages, where Christ is the focus, where traditions bow to the Word of God, and where the generations walk together—and love doing so. This is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the church become like a family again. 

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Fear of God Devotional: When There is no Fear of God, What Does the Heart Look Like?



Does an unregenerated heart have a fear of God?

Clarence Simmons explains that an unregenerated heart wants nothing to do with God. Rather than loving God, that person is a God-hater. In short, their heart is a cesspool of uncleanness. There is no spiritual understanding and no seeking after the things of God. All are inwardly corrupt and there is none that is righteous.

Yet, God can overcome even the hardest of hearts. His power is supreme and no one can resist His will.

Isaiah 14:27 (NKJV) – “For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?”

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Fear of God Devotional: The Gospel and the Fear of God



How does the Gospel increase our fear of God?

In this video, Paul Washer explains that the fear of God is not the Gospel but is a product of the Gospel. The Gospel is grace and grace alone. Those who hear the Gospel, repent, and believe the Gospel are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are given new hearts, hearts that can truly fear God for who He is. The heart of stone that formerly rebelled against God is now one that can honor and fear God. This wondrous work of God working in the heart of an unbeliever naturally creates a fear of God, a feeling of awe when we see His work in our lives!

Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV) – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

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Two Aspects of the Fear of God

Here Al Martin defines the fear of God identifying two elements that we see in the Bible:

These two common uses of the word “fear” in the vocabulary of the people of biblical times (and also in some measure in our vocabulary) are both included in the biblical notation of the fear of God. There is a legitimate sense in which the fear of God involves being afraid of God, being gripped with terror and dread. Though this is not the dominant thought in Scripture, it is there nonetheless. The second aspect of fear, which is peculiar to the true children of God, is the fear of veneration, honor, and awe with which we regard our God. It is a fear that leads us not to run from him, but to draw near to Him through Jesus Christ and gladly submit to Him in faith, love, and obedience.

– Al Martin – The Forgotten Fear

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Fear of God Devotional: Maintaining Godly Fear in the Home



How can we better incorporate the fear of God in family worship?

During our times of family worship, Kevin Swanson explains that it is important to speak of God’s greatness and speak with reverential language – we’re in the presence of God. Often, we forget who we’re addressing when we do pray and we need to recognize who we’re speaking to before we open our mouths. It can be too easy to run through a prayer out of routine and not honor God with our words as we ought.

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV) – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

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Pray for These Pastors



Please pray for the following pastors Paul Carrington and I visited  over the weekend.

Pray for Adam Maddan. Click here to hear of his church planting efforts. in the Brigham City area of Northern Utah.

Pray for Paul Thompson, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Pray for Tim Moyer, pastor of Emmanuel Bible Church in Star Valley Wyoming.

These men are laboring in a very difficult mission field – an area dominated by Mormonism. Here is what they are up against.

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Fear of God Devotional: The Fear of God in a Church Pastor



How should the fear of God affect pastors?

In this video, Jason Dohm explains that pastors have many opportunities to fear or be anxious about a variety of church issues. The job of a pastor is to faithfully bring the Word of God to their congregation – however, their congregation does not always interpret his words and actions in a positive light. Despite their worries that their congregation might react in a negative way, pastors should fear God and not their congregation. The success of their church is in the hands of Christ. If they labor faithfully and speak as He has called them to, they can have peace, knowing that they are pleasing God.

1 Peter 5:2-5 (NKJV) – “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

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Fear of God Devotional: The Fear of God in Church History



How have Christians feared God throughout history?

In Augustine’s day, the fear of God was spoken of regularly. The idea of God being everywhere was a predominant theme in his writings. Today, however, we fear man instead of fearing God – what has changed?

Starting with the Middle Ages, the fear of God was incrementally done away with. After the Reformation, the fear of God was largely replaced with the fear of man. Today, America has lost her fear of God. For instance, Supreme Court justices take it into their own hands to redefine marriage.

Each time we knowingly sin, we are being a “practical atheist,” because we act as though God does not exist. At that moment, there is no fear of God.

James 4:17 (NKJV) – “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

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Fear of God Devotional: What It Means When You Don’t Want the Fear of God in Your Life



How do you identify an individual that does not have the fear of God?

Paul Thompson explains that there are a variety of characteristics typical of individuals who have lost their fear of God. This is a person who does not want God to be the ruler of their life because that keeps them from doing what they want to do.

Thus, they separate themselves from the local church and other believers and alienate themselves from godly things while replacing that void with the things of the world. There is no delight or longing to read Scripture and to know God in their life. Are there ways that you have lost the fear of God in your life?

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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Fear of God Devotional: How the Fear of God Changed Our Church



How can the fear of God change the way a church operates?

In this video, Carlton McLeod explains how he, as a pastor, was initially focused on what those attending his church would want instead of turning to Scripture to understand the will of God for church life. He realized that he would have to face God one day for how he led his congregation. He also understood how much he displeased God by leading the church himself instead of seeking God’s will. Ultimately, the fear of God led him to change various aspects of church life.

Galatians 1:10 (NKJV) “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

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Fear of God Devotional: The Fear of God and A Sense of Sin



How does the fear of God impact our view of the cross, of God, and of sin?

Joel Beeke explains that once we have a fear of God, it allows us to better understand the seriousness of sin. This, in turn, drives us to the cross, where we see the all-sufficiency of Christ. The cross allows us to comprehend what Christ has done, the enormity of sin, and the greatness of God. This majestic view of God, His attributes, and His glory allows us to see God’s fingerprints throughout all of life – He is present everywhere and at all times. Even if no one else sees us committing a sinful act, He is present.

Psalm 139:7-10 (NKJV) – “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.

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How Children are Left Out in a Family Integrated Church

I am confident that worship and fellowship in a church should be age integrated, following the biblical patterns. There are many benefits… For example, in churches were this is practiced there is a heightened relational depth. The fellowship times last longer than in many churches. People get very connected. In most family integrated churches, the whole congregation eats lunch together after Sunday worship. It’s wonderful! The people stay around. It creates a relational fabric in the church that is a blessing. The pastors can get better connected with the flock. Families end up sharing dozens of meals together each year… It’s great!

But something often happens in the midst of this kind of wonderful setting.  Parents can get so absorbed in their fellowship and their ministry with other adults, two things often happen.

1. Children are left to themselves.
The children are simply left out of the conversations the adults are having. Result: there is a de-facto youth culture running underneath the adult fellowship culture. Parents take little effort to involve the younger ones in their conversations. What do you get: an age segregated family integrated church… You get disinterested uninvolved children because the parents are so focused on their peers… It creates a peer driven church under the guise of family integration.

2.  Children can be neglected.
The children are sometimes just waiting for their parents to finish their conversations. They wait and wait and wait while their parents are engaged in their lively conversations with their peers. I wonder how many children eventually become resentful because their parents are so wrapped up in their fellowship binge. They wait patiently. They have nothing to do. They just wait until their parents are done. Not very exciting – for the children. 

What should we do? 

We ought to be far more caring for our children. We should love them enough to engage them. I realize it takes more work to engage them… it requires fore thought and actual love for parents to be sensitive of their presence.

Here is my advice:

  1. Keep your children with you as much as is practicable and engage them in your conversations with other adults. Be aware of them and bring them into the conversations. Make these conversations valuable and interesting. Make them a joy. 
  2. Don’t neglect your children and allow situations where they are waiting around for you all the time. I realize it may be necessary from time to time, but don’t make them wait… It’s not something that you would do to your friends, and it’s not something that should be done very often to your children.
  3. Adults, seek out the children of your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are brothers and sisters. Seek to minister to the  young people. Pray for them. Engage them in conversation. Prov. 27:9-10 speaks of the way families should operate regarding friendship. Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.”  Here, Solomon recognizes a level of friendship and/or familiarity between a young people and the friends of their fathers. 

If we are going to have a family integrated church, we must remember to love the children as well.

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Fear of God Devotional: How the Fear of God Changed Our Church



How can the fear of God change the way a church operates?

In this video, Carlton McLeod explains how he, as a pastor, was initially focused on what those attending his church would want instead of turning to Scripture to understand the will of God for church life. He realized that he would have to face God one day for how he led his congregation. He also understood how much he displeased God by leading the church himself instead of seeking God’s will. Ultimately, the fear of God led him to change various aspects of church life.

Galatians 1:10 (NKJV) “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

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