Titus Email – March 2020

Volume 14, Number  3 – MARCH, 2020

          Greetings.  This month the focus is on Moses and John Mark, two people who ended up to be quite important disciples of God, even though how they started was not indicative of how they ended.  Perhaps you are in a situation or your past history has indicated spiritual struggles.  Prayerfully this Titus Email will encourage you.  Mike
When life seems confusing and we are sensing we are going through a wilderness time in our lives, it is of utmost importance to trust God to lead us even when things do not make sense.  He may very well be setting up the enemy to bring glory to Himself through what we are experiencing, just as He did with the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt and pinned up against the Red Sea.
          During these times of uncertainty, we can allow fear to make us foolish and irrational.  Consider the Israelites.  The Egyptians had caught up to them out in the desert and anxiety soared in the Israelite camp (Exodus 14:10-12).  They complained to Moses that he had brought them out into the desert to their graves.  Moses should have left them alone to serve as slaves and die in Egypt.  How ridiculous in their thinking. 
          When we are afraid, we will think crazy thoughts and sometimes act out from those thoughts resulting in poor outcomes.  In a group setting, one person or just a few can create such panic that large numbers of people will carry out activities that are irrational and/or totally not trusting God.  Recall in Numbers 13 & 14, twelve spies returned from checking out the Promise Land that God told them they were to go in and take over (God assured them victory) but ten of the spies allowed their fear to get the best of them and convince the mob of Israelites to ignore God’s promise.  The result was wandering in the wilderness for forty years.
          The Israelites in Exodus spoke that there were no graves in Egypt.  There were plenty as many Israelites died as slaves.  But irrational fear leads to “stupid” arguments and grievous decisions.  When fear creeps in, crazy thoughts and plans step in.  Know that during anxious and fearful times that you should not be making decisions that you will probably regret. 
When we get into high stressful situations, our bodies and thinking do not function the same way when we are relaxed.  Be aware that the simplest of tasks become near impossible as our heart rate increases.  Law enforcement and military personnel are taught activities including breathing techniques a person can do to allow proper thinking and body movements necessary in high stressful situations and perform at peak levels. 
To counter what was going on, Moses told the people to not be afraid (Exodus 14:13-14).  God would be fighting for them; though we may be fearful, God is fighting.  Allow promises like Romans 8:35-38 and Hebrews 13:8 to resonate through your mind.  Moses exclaimed that God was fighting for them and they needed to focus on Him.  To be still as the Bible mentions here and in Psalms 37:7, 46:10, is to be focused on Him and listening for His leading.  We can have the confidence that He is right with us and on our side.  He is going to exalt Himself. 
Rely on the Lord, stay focused on Him and resist relying on your own understanding when you come up with irrational decisions or actions.  Bounce what you are feeling and thinking off of other solid Christians to see if you thinking processes are irrational.  Slow down, take some deep breaths and communicate with Jesus and other godly Christians. 
When John Mark sailed away from Paul and Barnabas, he probably had no idea how his decision would affect missionary work over the next years and might have figured he had blown his opportunity to serve God because no one would want him to do any Christian work again. 
He was a young person trying to figure out where he fit and for a while was enjoying Christian work.  Working with his relative Barnabas and the intriguing Paul, who people were still buzzing about over Paul’s 180 degree turn from killing Christians to getting people saved, had to be pretty exciting.
Something occurred early in that first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:4-13) that made John Mark bolt.  Whatever it was, when Barnabas suggested taking John Mark along on Paul and Barnabas’ second missionary journey, Paul was so vehemently against that idea that Barnabas and Paul parted ways (Acts 15:36-40).  Barnabas grabbed John Mark while Paul selected Silas to be his partner. 
John was discipled under Peter’s training (1 Peter 5:13) and grew up hanging out with the apostles and other church leaders as many of them often spent time at his mother (Mary) house regularly (Acts 12:12).  Both Paul and Barnabas had to have seen real potential in John Mark in order to allow him to join in their first journey.  For whatever reason, John Mark could not handle it and left shortly into that trip. 
Thankfully that is not the end of John Mark.  Barnabas took him under his wing again.  During those years John Mark matured and became well known for his faithfulness and diligence among Christians.  He developed an excellent reputation because Paul wanted him to work with the Colossians (4:10) and became a very important co-worker for Paul (Philemon 24, 2 Timothy 4:11). 
Paul saw the gifts and talents of John Mark and did not hold past activities against him.  John Mark flourished.  The gospel of Mark is written by John Mark as many believe  Peter shared the stories of Jesus with Mark. 
Have you ever thought that you have done so many wrong things that God could never use you, that God would not want to use someone like you?  Why would God be interested in someone who never gets it right when it comes to spiritual things?  It is amazing how God is the God of second chances. 
It is true that rarely does God take away the consequences of disobedience, but He forgives sin and the guilt of sin.  If you have a heart that is truly sorry and desirous of doing right (a repentant heart), God wants to use you. 
We all make mistakes (which is not an excuse to sin though).  It is how you handle those mistakes and the consequences that show your character.  John Mark made a decision that Paul thought he was not fit for mission work.  John pursued being obedient to God, kept developing his character and proved Paul wrong.  Now that was a major accomplishment.  I am figuring God wants to use you.  Are you up for that challenge?