As some renovations are happening around the house, we have restricted our entire household to one bedroom, our kitchen, and the family room. With just the two of us, plus the pooches (excessive heat over 100F has forced my old pal Bubba inside), we’re comfortable enough. Ms. Diane’s little friend Archie isn’t quite sure what to make of it all, but he’s finding plenty of new places to explore. Usually found in my wife’s craft room or my den; the only time he’s at this end of the house is when his dinner is served. His favorite hangout has been in mama’s lap or looking out the low windows.
The other day, I caught him in the cutest little pose (photo above), leaning on the windowsill and looking out the window in our breakfast nook. The way he had his front paws crossed in front of him brought a chuckle. I’m not sure if he was watching the chickens chase grasshoppers or the cows getting in the hot tub (their pond), but he was most intent. Focused on what was outside, he didn’t even respond when I said, “Cookie.” It was with great anticipation that he was looking forward to going outside and exploring all those smells.
The words of Titus 2:13 raised up from my heart and I found myself asking, “Am I that focused on what’s ahead?” It seems so easy to get distracted as we walk through this world sometimes. There are bills to pay, shopping, cleaning, laundry, appointments, repairs, maintenance, meals, and always a hundred other things that can take over our days. I’m glad that I get up before everyone else and get my focused “God time” in before the day gets into full swing. That time helps me to set my eyes upon God and invites His presence with me throughout the day. I need that! The peace He brings as we walk through the day truly helps me make it through. Often, I find myself silently asking for Him to help me come closer as the world does its best to steal my peace.Satan does his best to distract you through the world and disrupt your faith walk each day. #AStrongFaith #OvercomingTheWorld Click To Tweet
I wish I could tell you I’m always in a peace-filled, joyous state-of-mind as I walk about spreading sunshine, but when you’re responsible for so much, that Utopia is unrealistic. It would be nice to live like that, but I don’t think that’s what God wants for us. We can’t grow to become what He wills for us without adversity in our lives. It’s the struggle that builds our faith muscles. The key to living our best Christian life is accepting the struggle and relying upon God’s presence in your life each day.
I remain hopeful upon God’s promise that I will one day live worry-free, stress-free, and distraction-free, focused solely on worshipping and living in His presence. Until that Day, we are all encouraged to do all we can to prepare ourselves and others for that time. We understand that this time of preparation is called sanctification, but what does that word look like in our lives? When I asked myself that question, my immediate response was, “Surrender. Surrendering to the work and will of God in my life so that I become more like His Son. I must relinquish control of this life so my new life in Christ can take on His character and goals.”
Thinking about this further, I realized that my thinking was too narrow, it was too “me-focused.” I prayed and then went back to read Titus 2 in its entirety. Verses 11-14 stood out as I came to understand that this Scripture speaks to not only the individual Christian, but to our obligation to the body of Christ.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to
all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly
lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the
present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious
appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who
gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every
lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people,
zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 NKJV)
In Paul’s letter to Titus, I think perhaps he was also writing this epistle to those whom Titus was pastoring/ministering to. Paul was exhorting all Christians to subject ourselves to the sanctification process so that the church (the body of Christ) will grow stronger together.The purpose for sanctification goes beyond the individual. It brings unity and growth to the entire body of Christ. #SanctifyTheBody #ChristianUnity Click To Tweet
Titus 2 tells us that as Christians, we must live morally and right in accordance with God’s Word, so we do not become stumbling blocks to others. To do this, we must extend the work of sanctification in our lives to others within the body of Christ. If you will, we are missionaries within the entire body of Christ. We are to minister to one another. It’s important to remember that this body extends far beyond our church walls.
God obligates us to be good stewards of those fellow Christians placed in our care. This includes our brothers and sisters in Christ in other churches and other communities. To accomplish this, we must make considerable effort to grow ourselves in Christ and to help those around us do the same. The work of our ministry includes helping the body to grow and mature in love and unity.
Christian growth takes work and effort, individually borne by every member of the body. It involves rigorous self-examination, practice, self-control, self-discipline, and actively overcoming the things which separate us from God and our brethren. God’s grace teaches us to replace our worldly desires and cravings with godly cravings and desires for truth and righteousness.
Like Ms. Diane’s little dog, I find myself looking out the window to the future when Christ returns. But I cannot, like him, become so focused on tomorrow that I ignore everything and everyone else around me today. Until His return, my job as a Christian is to invite and encourage others to peer through that window with me. As I continue to learn and grow in Christ, I am reminded of the words of I Corinthians 13:12. There is much I am yet to learn. But if I continue seeking His presence in my life and understanding, He will be faithful to keep growing and grooming me for His service.
I pray that you too find something new in God’s Word this week. Something that not only helps you grow in Christ, but will help others along our shared journey of sanctification.