Written and preached by David P. Nolte

TITUS 2:11-15 (NLT)

In his letter to Titus, Paul has given a pretty clear picture of what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. He mentions the need "to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures." He says "We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God," and that we must be "totally committed to doing what is right." God is looking for men and women who are willing to allow Him to build them into that kind of people. Jesus is looking for the kind of men and women who fit the model of real discipleship. To do that we need several things.
    1. "The grace of God instructs us" Paul said. The RSV says it "trains us" and the NIV says it "teaches us." For anyone to be instructed, taught or trained, a pliable heart is mandatory. Otherwise we will be hard hearted, intractable, unteachable and unmanageable.
    2. How important is the heart of man? And why do we need a pliable heart? Unless our hearts are pliable, we won't learn, in short.
      1. Our heart is the center of our affection for God: "And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT).
      2. Our heart determines our conduct. Solomon said, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
      3. Our heart determines our speech. Jesus said, "For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart." Matthew 12:35 (NLT).
      4. Our heart can be hardened against God and His Word. "Don't harden your hearts against Him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God's patience in the wilderness." Hebrews 3:8 (NLT).
    3. How do we keep our hearts soft, malleable and moldable in His hands? How do we get a pliable heart?
      1. Refuse to rebel against God. God said, "Put all your rebellion behind you, and get for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit." Ezekiel 18:31 (NLT).
      2. Ask God for a new heart. David prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me." Psalms 51:10 (NLT).
      3. Shun any form of idolatry, "Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel." Josh 24:23 (NASB).
      4. Keep aloof from the temporal traps of the world. Jesus said, "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap." Luke 21:34 (NIV).
      5. Be sure your honor of God is not just lip service. God said of ancient Israel, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me." Matthew 15:8 (NASB).
    4. Let me illustrate. Think about a horse pulling a heavy load of logs. The owner gives verbal commands and pulls on the reins to give directions. The horse backs up, turns left, turns right, stops or walks, at the owner's command. That horse submits his strength to that of his owner. The horse is pliable, teachable, manageable. That's the kind of heart every disciple needs: one that is pliable, teachable, manageable.
    1. "Totally committed to doing what is right." Not half committed. Not just a little committed. Not committed when it is convenient. But a commitment that is reliable. A commitment upon which God and His church can rely.
    2. Think about it:
      1. What if you needed a fireman and when you called, you were told he couldn't come right then because he was in the middle of a poker game? That's unreliable.
      2. What if you needed a policeman and he didn't come because he was busy eating doughnuts? That's unreliable.
      3. What if you needed a surgeon and had to wait because he decided not to keep to the schedule? That's unreliable.
      4. What if you had an employee who decided not to show up for work because it is such a pretty day? That's unreliable.
    3. God desires disciples upon whom He can count. Upon whom can He depend? Upon whom can He count?
      1. Those who prove to be trustworthy stewards who take their stewardship seriously. Paul wrote, "it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy." 1 Corinthians 4:2b (NASB). Can God trust you to wisely manage what He has entrusted to you?
      2. Those who have been faithful in their duties. Jesus said, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:23 (NIV). Does God find you faithful in discharging your Christian duty?
      3. Those who make a commitment to Him and keep it. "So when you make a promise to God, don't delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to Him. It is better to say nothing than to promise something that you don't follow through on." Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (NLT). Have you done your utmost to do what you told God you'd do?
    4. The Great Wall of China is an incredible structure that cost an immense amount of money and labor. When it was finished, it appeared impregnable. But three times the enemy breached it - not by breaking it down or going around it. Not by going over or under it. They did it by bribing the gatekeepers. The human factor was the weakness. What collapsed was character which could be bought and shallow faithfulness set aside for profit. What was lacking was commitment to be reliable in doing one's duty.
    1. "Turn from godless living and sinful pleasure. Live in this evil world with self-control right conduct and a devotion to God." And that needs to be evident to all who see us.
      1. Peter wrote, "Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when He comes to judge the world." 1 Peter 2:12 (NLT).
      2. Paul wrote, "throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness -- righteous, holy, and true. Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT).
      3. And, "In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely in all they do. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good deeds of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Let your teaching be so correct that it can't be criticized. Then those who want to argue will be ashamed because they won't have anything bad to say about us." Titus 2:6-8 (NLT).
    2. There are many things that are obvious and undeniable:
      1. Garlic on your breath, for one thing.
      2. A severe, glowing, bright red sunburn for another thing.
      3. And a huge gob of spinach between your front teeth.
      4. Would that our Godliness be that apparent.
    3. Many times you can tell something about a person by what you observe:
      1. If they jump up and down, shouting "Yes!" when their team scores, you can tell they are an avid fan.
      2. If they always cry at sad movies you can tell they are emotional and sort of sensitive.
      3. If they blow their top over the least provocation, you can tell they are short tempered.
      4. Our actions, speech and attitudes ought to let people know we are Godly.
    4. The story is told about 3 prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in California during the gold rush days. They realized what a great discovery they had. One of the men said, "We've a really good thing going here as long as no one else finds out about it." So they each took a vow to keep it secret. Then they headed for town to file their claims and get the equipment necessary to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn't say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the equipment, and headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed them. And the reason was that the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces glowed in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.

If our discipleship is real, our Godliness will be that obvious and undeniable. It will cause others to want to follow, to find the same thing we have found. May our Godliness be attractive and winsome. May we reflect a pliable heart, a reliable commitment and an undeniable Godliness. Then and only then are we the kind of disciples who do the Lord's work to His pleasure. This is a moment of decision and dedication. This is a moment when you can get real with Jesus and get serious about serving Him. This is a moment when you can be fully and totally committed to be His disciple. Make that commitment as we sing our song: "Cry of my heart," / "All For Jesus."

Wall of China / Miners from SermonCentral.com

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