Titus Connection January 2022

Volume 16, Number  1 – JANUARY, 2022

Happy and Blessed New Year to your family and you.  Wow!  2022.  A new year to serve Jesus and see how He will use each one of us.  In this Connection, we will look at Noah, who is a first timer for WILD.  We have not looked at his life before.  What faith he had.  Then a discussion about love for the Youth Ministry segment.  True, Jesus’ kind of love makes a gigantic difference for people.  Enjoy!.  Mike



          Ark = Noah.  That is how we associate Noah in Bible stories.  What is fascinating is to take a good look at why Noah ended up on the ark.  That is where we learn about the deep revealing story about Noah.  We have to remember that God used ordinary people during Bible times, just as He uses ordinary people today to fulfill His Will. 
          We first meet up with Noah when he is 500 years old and then became the father of three sons, Shem, Japheth and Ham.  They lived during a very dark time of mankind.  People were utterly wicked and what people thought to do all the time was to be evil.  Have you ever run into a completely evil person, a person bent on doing the opposite of anything good?  Those people are simply demonic and you want to get away from them.  Now imagine not being able to escape being around evil people all the time because everyone is evil.  (Genesis 6:5-8)
          But not Noah.  Noah is described as righteous, blameless among his neighbors and he prioritized his relationship with God.  And Noah is the only person outside his family that was pursuing God with all his being.  Talk about being a light among darkness.  It is a challenge to doing things that please God and living a life of integrity among others when you can lean on others pursuing the same lifestyle.  Can you imagine being the only one, all the time?
          This was Noah’s world.  Everything he did stood out.  Each interaction shouted, “God”, while the rest of the world shouted back, “Evil, demonic, hideous!”.  Righteous means to be morally pure, to be living as God would.  This was a result of how closely Noah walked with His Lord.  He radiated Jesus because he was like Daniel.  No one could find anything wrong, sinful or deceitful.  The only thing people could make Noah look bad about was his relationship with God. 
          Was Noah perfect?  No.  He worked to make sure all his relationships with his neighbors and others he ran into, were good and if he wronged someone, he made things right, right away.  The earth was full of violence all around him, but Noah kept his eyes and heart focused on God and found favor with God.  He followed God at all costs. 
          Could you or I handle the peer pressure to follow God at all costs?  Am I willing to be different to be obedient to Jesus, even if I was the only one?  Can you think of a time when you made a decision that honored God and no one else made that same decision?  It was lonely, probably scarry to take a stand for Jesus.  Noah did this every day, every decision.  That takes courage and fortitude to stand alone.
          Being a witness in our communities and being the only one to stand for what is right and from God, well, that is unique.  It is so much easier to stand for Jesus when there is someone else standing with us.  Noah put his faith in God before he had knowledge of the Gospel, no prophecy about a coming Messiah.  He trusted the Creator of the world to do the best and right things that he knew.  He was constantly condemned, judged, ridiculed and ostracized. 
          Then God told him to build something that was never built before.  A boat or ark that was massive because it was going to rain.  It had never rained before and it would rain so much that the whole world would easily be covered, killing every living thing and person except those in the ark.  Oh, it was going to happen in 100 years.  Do you think anyone thought Noah was crazy?  Do we believe God enough that we are willing to look like fools for Him? 
          People had to make Noah an utter fool or the brunt of every joke imaginable.  Do you trust the Lord to lead you in all areas of your life?  How surrendered are you and I to obediently follow Him no matter the cost?   At what cost will I stop being obedient?  Each of us has to work that out.  God wants complete surrender and obedience (and we are around others who are also being cast the same challenge).  But Noah was totally on his own. 
          If we spend time pondering the life of Noah, it is not at all difficult to see why he ended up in Hebrews 11:7.  Without faith, it is impossible to please God because we must believe He exists and rewards those who earnestly pursue Him (vs 6).  How much faith do you and I have?    


          Sometimes we make our faith too complicated.  If we would simply stick to the basics, could that mean we as Christians would have more influence and impact in a world that is desperately scrambling to find hope and truth?  Among some very straightforward New Testament passages, one is 1 Peter 4:7-9. “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.  Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (NLT)
          Without going into a deep and at times, argumentative discussion of end times, we know we are each day getting closer to Jesus returning.  So, Peter said to intentionally focus on develop your relationship with Jesus.  Spend consistent time in the Bible and communicate by talking AND listening with Jesus.  Carve intentional, focused time out of your schedule to hang out with Him.  If you love someone, you spend time with that person.  If you love Jesus, you will spend time with Him.
          Talking on love, Peter said, “Most important of all, show deep love.”, because love trumps and deals with so much of the craziness of people.  It is easy to become annoyed, frustrated, hold a grudge, get angry, and begin to feel someone is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserve scorn.  It is easy to be unkind, unfriendly and have an uncaring attitude.  My ego gets in the way of being an inviting, caring person.
          Think of a family member who has not been nice to you, annoys you by one of their habits and you simply do not want to spend time with him/her.  Why do you feel that way?  It is true that there are situations where a person has been abusive in some way (character issues) which is not the relationship situations we are discussing now.  Most relationship annoyances are minor.  We chose to keep our distance and keep those annoyances our reasons for not developing our relationships.
          Jesus made it clear in John 13:34-35, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  How will people know we follow Jesus?  By going church, reading our Bible, doing good things to others, speaking about Jesus?…NO.  We are Jesus’ followers by loving others.  Easier said than done, you are perhaps thinking right now.
          What does it mean to love because you can love your pet, your job, a sports team, an activity or a person?  There is a multitude levels of love because hopefully a food you love is so minuscule compared to loving a person you really care for.  To love another person, you put their needs right there with your needs or often put their needs ahead of your own (Philippians 2:3-5).  Think of a love a parent has for a child or Jesus’ love for us.  A parent will often sacrifice so the child’s needs are met.  That is love.
          When we love others, yes, people will get on our nerves and annoy us with their habits, or where they are not always nice to us, but we look beyond those annoyances, to the point where they continue to be an important priority for us.  As long as you are not in harm’s way, you stick with the person, working to develop and positively influence your relationship, being hospitable in whatever way you can. 
          If as Christians we would simply prioritize showing love to all the “whoevers” we have opportunity to influence, what would this world be like?  People are not interested in our theology and forms of worship if we do not show love and concern to them first and foremost.  Christians cannot even get along. What is wrong with us?  Why should the people out in the world listen to our “Good News” message when we do not show it in the Body of Christ?
          Hardly no one will agree with all of our points of view on anything, to include theology and our expressions of faith.  The bottom line is, “Who is Jesus to you?”  Is He your Savior, the One who has forgiven all your sins and the only One and Way for you to enter Heaven?  If He is, then let Him transform you through His love, so you and l love others, giving people the human perspective of a life committed to Jesus.  Then love will cover a multitude of sins and our faith is purer and simpler.