September 3, 2019

September 3, 2019

September 3, 2019
Titus 1:1-9
by Kevin S. Richardson
Clergy of Fort Gibson UMC (Castlewood, VA)
St Paul UMC (Saint Paul, VA)
St Paul - Castlewood
Appalachian District

Have you ever said, “I’m just not feeling it?” That was my response when I received my scripture assignment for today’s devotion (The devotion I volunteered to do mind you). The first scripture choice I read through was Psalms 58. I thought to myself, I could just copy some Facebook posts I’ve seen and whether you are Democrat or Republican I would either make you mad, happy, embarrassed, proud, friend me, unfriend me, etc… Since I’m not a very political person and this isn’t Fox or CNN news I decided ummmm better not.

The second scripture I read was Jeremiah 3:1-14 which covers the unfaithfulness of Israel towards God. That could have taken a bad turn in the current climate of the United Methodist Church for a devotional. If your Progressive/Liberal you could take it in the direction of, “The church is not loving everyone as Jesus loved if you’re not for full inclusion, thereby breaking the Great Commission and Great Commandment in one single action” or if you’re on the Conservative/Traditional side of the house, “Just as Israel  turned their back on God and His law so would we Methodist if we are for full inclusion and will be judged as such.” I have my own beliefs/convictions on the subject and if your curious (no one really knows me in the conference very well so I can’t imagine you would) come to St. Paul VA where I’m blessed to pastor and I’ll buy you coffee or lunch and we can talk about it. Holy Conferencing seems to only take place face to face, not on Facebook ��

I had one scripture left… Titus 1:1-9 New International Version (NIV) it reads:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior, To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

I read this and I thought, “This speaks to me as an elder but what about everyone else?” I decided to sleep and pray on it and this morning it hit me. I serve two churches, one over 100 years old, the second over 200 years old! There have been people pass through these walls that have been recognized as elders of the church, (Whether the conference appointed them or not, whether they were ordained or not) way before I was born, and if the Lord tarries long after I’m gone. So, what does God expect out of these spiritual giants / saints that He has created for His glory:
  1.  Be blameless (o dear)
  2.  Faithful to his wife (or if female to husband) no issue she is amazing J/S
  3.  Children in line …. Umm my kids are P.K’s
  4.  Not overbearing (been accused of that)
  5.  Not quick tempered (I’m Irish Lord have Mercy)
  6.  Not given to drunkenness (2 out of 6 so far…)
  7.  Not violent (My wife says the older I get the more Teddy Bear-ish I get)
  8.  Not controlled … no issue here (Ask my D.S. poor guy)
  9.  Upright, trustworthy with the message, and sound in doctrine. With the Holy Spirit I believe I can check these off.

So, the way I count this I hit five of nine with God’s grace helping me with all of them, especially the four I identify as problems, or growing edges I encounter. How do you stack up? If you are in the church, if you are a Christian, if you are a parent, grandparent, community leader, in the 7th grade and there are 5th graders in your church, to them you are an “elder” or someone they look up to. We all need to do a personal inventory of ourselves to see where we are striving, failing, need help or can help others. In the famous words of Anthony Lee, an inmate I had the privilege of being his chaplain at Pocahontas Correction for 6.5 years, “You better check yourself, before you wreck yourself.”

Lord help me and all that read this devotion to do a self-inventory in the areas listed in this scripture. Someone somewhere is depending on us to show them Christ and although we will fall short in some way everyday we ask you to strengthen us in You so we can strengthen others Amen