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Wax Free ... Sun Tested, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2022 12:00 am

Wax Free ... Sun Tested, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 9, 2022 12:00 am

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that Paul had all the answers to life's questions. We think he always knew where God wanted him to go next, and that he had the Christian life all figured out. But thankfully, Paul himself tells us the opposite. Today Stephen reminds us that remarkable Christians need the grace of God as much as everyone else.

 

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Was Paul always sure of himself? Well, this verse just answered it.

Let's go back and take a closer look. He says, when I send Artemis or Tychicus to you... Now wait, wait, wait, wait. Paul is submitting in total transparency the fact that he wasn't sure. For those of you that lead a ministry, you lead a movement, you lead a school, maybe you lead a household. Isn't it wonderful to hear Paul say, Titus, I've got two ways I can go and I'm not sure which one is the best candidate.

I don't know. One of the means by which God accomplishes his work in the church is through people. But more precisely, God is looking for certain characteristics in the people that he works through. One of those characteristics is authenticity. We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that what God wants is people who have everything figured out. Thankfully, that's not the case. In this message, Stephen reminds you that remarkable Christians need the grace of God as much as everyone else.

We never get to the point where we don't need grace. This message is called Wax-Free, Sun-Tested. Several years ago, I read an article written by a woman about her mother's collection of antique jars. She said that her mother had collected over 200 of them over the years and none of them were exactly alike. Authentic, antiques, all different kinds of colors and shapes and sizes. The largest piece in her collection was a crafted glass jug from Eastern Europe and the smallest piece in her collection was a little tiny handcrafted glass perfume bottle that her mother had actually dug up as she was searching in an area where it was once used. That area was once a stop for stagecoaches and the little bottle still held the faint aroma of perfume even though it was more than 100 years old.

I don't know about you, but I've watched on occasion that antique show where people bring in their junk and every once in a while it's worth millions and you get so excited for those people and you start looking around your own attic for some junk to maybe take over there. But you know, they have all those clues and they can kind of figure out if it's an imitation or if it's the real genuine antique. This woman wrote that her mother used a very simple test to determine whether or not these were to prove these genuine antique glass pieces. She would set it out in the sunlight. She wrote that a genuine antique bottle would change color when exposed to direct sunlight over the course of several weeks. The glass in objects made more than 100 years ago had a high level of manganese, a metallic chemical added to make the glass just a little more clearer.

And the sun's rays would cause a chemical reaction and pale green, for instance, she wrote, would turn to brilliant shades of purple. The authentic antique was revealed when examined as it were by the light. If you travel back to the days of the Apostle Paul, they didn't use glass so much as they use pottery and they had a similar test to determine pottery that was well made pots and cups and bowls and so many more objects. Dishonest potters would cover over cracks and flaws in their pottery by filling them with wax and the person shopping there in that little shop, it could go undetected. So it was normal for people to take that piece of pottery outside and hold it up to the light and turn it and they could tell because when the direct sunlight hit that crack covered over with wax, the wax would be a lighter color. And it was evidently such a problem that they discovered pottery from the days of the Apostle Paul where the merchants stamped their pottery with the formal Latin inscription sign sera. Sign means without, sera is the Latin word for wax. In other words, my pottery is without wax. Sign sera over time became our English word sincere, no wax. And in this analogy, that would mean that we're open and honest if we're sincere about cracks and flaws rather than, you know, covering it up.

We try to work it out and change from the inside out. This is authentic Christianity without wax, sun tested. What a wonderful resolution for every believer and for the entire church.

As we wrap up our series called Remarkable Christianity, we're actually going to come to the end of Paul's letter to Titus. And it's only fitting that the characteristic of authenticity would be stamped here in the lives of Paul and these other men. What does authentic spiritual character look like? What is a genuine heart for God look like?

And let's not use the typical terminology. Let's make it real. Let's hold Paul up, as it were, to the light and make some observations.

So what I want to do is go through this final paragraph with you and simply point out four ways, four tests, so to speak, to determine authenticity. And let's turn his life around and give it the direct sunlight of the Word of God. You'll notice verse 12 of Titus chapter 3 where Paul writes, When I send Artemis or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. And this verse is a sermon all by itself.

I mean, this is loaded. But I am determined to finish these four verses today because I want to begin a brief study of the life of Daniel. I want to show you how Daniel was the first believing magi or wise man and how he so delivered the Gospel, so impacting that culture that his spiritual descendants will eventually arrive in Bethlehem to crown Christ King. So we're going to start with Daniel. All that to say, I'm going to finish Titus today. And all the people said?

Not so loud, please. Now, as we begin, there are authors that I've encountered, and I haven't bored you with that because some of this is nonsense, but there are those that believe that Paul was a know-it-all, that Paul was this unfeeling, uncaring, and probably if you met him, he was unsmiling too. He was dogmatic. He was, you know, never wrong. And he never let on to be anything other than certain. That's Paul. That's how people feel, some of them. I don't buy a lot of their books.

Is that true? Well, nowhere is that proven more untrue than in the way Paul finishes his letters. Have you noticed, as you study the word, they exude warmth and care.

He drops names in there of people he's praying for and he cares about and he wants the church to be concerned for. And they also revealed, as I went through the paragraph over and over again, it seems to me they reveal the marks of an authentic life. Let me give you four of them.

The first of the four is this. Authenticity is revealed through honest dilemmas. Was Paul unfeeling? Was Paul always sure of himself? Did Paul ever come across as uncertain? Well, this verse just answered it.

Let's go back and take a closer look. He says, when I send Artemis or Tychicus to you. Now wait, wait, wait, wait. What did he just reveal? You ought to get your pencil out and if you have a New American Standard, you'll have the word or, and if you have another translation, go buy a New American Standard and then come back with that.

Here's a nugget you'd miss. That little word or. This is an indefinite clause for you Greek scholars.

Houghton with the subjunctive. What that means is Paul doesn't know. He doesn't know.

I'm so grateful for this little word or. When I send Artemis or Tychicus, which means Paul is submitting in total transparency, the fact that he wasn't sure. And instead of, you know, couching his language as the great apostle, you know, some great leader might do with something more like, Oh, Titus, there are two excellent candidates for the pastor that I'm considering. No, he spells it out.

No wax to smooth it over. You know, he, he lets them know the decision is difficult and he hasn't made up his mind for those of you that lead a ministry, you lead a class, you lead a movement, you lead a school, maybe you lead a household. Isn't it wonderful to hear Paul say, Titus, I've got two possible men.

I've got two ways I can go and I'm not sure which one is the best candidate. I don't know implied. I'm thinking about it, which implies because we know he's a man of prayer that he's praying about this. Listen, the spirit of God is inspiring his text of scripture through the apostle Paul and embedded within this inspired scripture is Paul's admission that the God hasn't led him at that point, clearly in every respect of his ministry. Paul, do you really want to let that out? Yes, I think I will. Do you really want the church to know?

I think I do. I don't know where I'm going to land yet. God has not filled in all the blanks of life and ministry yet. So encouraging to discover here in this letter that little word or sure was to me. I've had people coming up to me asking, you know, what book are we going to study next? It's just given me great courage to say, I don't know yet.

I don't know. And they give me this look with you mean you're not a year ahead. I'd like to be a month ahead. I'd like to be a week. I'd like to be a nevermind. I would. That's enough transparency for me, but I'm not there yet. Okay.

I love this. I don't know what I'm going to do. Maybe you're wondering what class do I take?

Maybe you're wondering which job offer? What college do I go to? How are we going to educate our children?

How are we going to educate this child? Which guy do I marry? Two fairly decent offers. Send them to me. I'll help you decide.

Okay. You're probably both unworthy of you. Which job? Where do I go?

Which bill do I pay first? Let's admit it to our friends and to the family. We're not sure which way to turn. That's honest authenticity in the dilemmas of life. And with that admission, by the way, is going to come a long prayer support, right?

Isn't this what happened? Paul writes this and Titus would have obviously begun praying for the Lord to give Paul the apostle wisdom to choose which man to send to Crete. The implications would be tremendous to these churches here on this island. They needed the right man at the right time. Now what do we know about these men?

What are we told? Well, we're given their names Artemis and Tychicus. Artemis is a name derived from the name of the popular goddess of fertility in this world at this time. Artemis, feminine, I-S ending. Some think he was actually named after her just given the masculine ending, A-S, Alpha Sigma. His name more than likely, if I had to throw my hat in, I would agree with those that believe his name meant gift from Artemis.

Either way, he got the same package. You've got a family that is so dedicated to this goddess of fertility that they have a son, maybe their only one, maybe they waited for years but they finally got this little boy and they believe that he was the result of the goddess. We're going to name him gift from Artemis. So they name him in honor of her. What this tells us for sure is that he was born into a Gentile idolatrous family and he evidently came to faith later in life.

You can only imagine the drastic changes in his life. We don't know anything about his parents, we don't really know anything about his past, but we do know that this Gentile man named in honor of a goddess is now one of the most trusted assistants to Paul the apostle in the early church. The other candidate mentioned here in verse 12 is Tychicus.

His name means fortunate. He's also a Gentile who came to faith in Christ. While Artemis never shows up anywhere again in the entire New Testament, Tychicus shows up often. Paul writes in Colossians 4.7 that he is his beloved brother, faithful servant, and fellow slave. He also calls him in Ephesians 6.21 his beloved brother and faithful minister. We know that Tychicus delivered Paul's letter to the Colossian believers living in Colossae. Acts chapter 20 tells us that Tychicus also accompanied Paul on one of his missionary journeys.

I believe it was his third one. He's obviously one of Paul's closest companions. And you can see why both would be candidates that could serve well this Gentile population like Titus. They are Gentiles trained personally by the apostle Paul to carry on a tough ministry. These people on the island, as we've said, are descendants of pirates, fishermen, and you don't have to study the mind of the apostle Paul or his writings for very long before you discover that he's always looking for men.

He's always investing in men. He's training Timothy and Titus and now Artemis, Tychicus. He understands that these churches will need what he's laid out in chapter 1 for Titus, godly men capable of leading.

He seems to always be on the search. E.M. Bounds would write about this kind of focus and he writes a good challenge to the church when he said the church is always looking for better methods. God is looking for better men. What the church needs today is not more machinery but more men whom the Holy Spirit can use. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods but through men. God does not anoint plans. He anoints people.

He wrote that in 1880 and we need it to this day. If you put the biblical clues together you discover that Paul ended up sending Artemis to take the place of Titus because we find that Paul sends Tychicus to relieve Timothy in Ephesus. In 2 Timothy chapter 4 that's mentioned. The point I want to make here is this mark of authenticity that could be easy to miss. Paul openly confesses here that at this moment he doesn't know which man to send and he even admits as much in this inspired letter that's going to be read all over the island of Crete and even to this day to a congregation in Kerry. I love the fact that Paul is real. Don't stop at the beginning read the ending of his letters and you'll find this and in this by the way you find also that Paul refuses the pedestal that that that fully expected him to always know what was right always have a decision in mind never come across as uncertain or indecisive and here he does just the opposite by adding that little phrase that reveals he doesn't happen to know everything ahead of time. And aren't you glad authenticity is revealed through honest dilemmas.

Secondly authenticity is revealed by personal deference to authority. Look at verse 12 again. When I send Artemis or Tychicus to you and I notice this make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis for I have decided to spend the winter there.

And now before we get to my point I think it's interesting. Paul is saying in other words I have decided which man to send to Crete but I know where I'm going to spend the winter in Nicopolis. But I want you to get this this paragraph here is going to hit Titus and it's going to come out of the blue. Everything about this letter has referred to what Titus has been doing organizing the churches on the island appointing elders challenging every age group standing down false teachers teaching doctrine even eschatology helping them understand that they need to make a demonstration of remarkable Christianity and doing good deeds and oh by the way here at the end of the letter Titus you're not going to be there much longer. Wait what. Let me let me fix my glasses and go back and read what did he just say. He's sending Artemis or Tychicus and I'm going to go to Nicopolis. Titus.

I mean I can imagine that perhaps he could have argued internally. Wait I'm invested here. Crete has become home after what I've been through. He would think you know I've been through all the power struggles I've taken on false teachers.

The churches now have appointed elders. Fruit is now just beginning to bud. What do you mean you're sending Artemis or Tychicus to take my place. He could have dug in his heels and said this is home.

This is where I belong. So understand that this letter is a bombshell to the plans of Titus. His plans are about to be entirely interrupted from what other passages tell us. Titus is going to be sent to Dalmatia a tough area to pioneer and it'll be a rough mission field but he's going to go without complaint because his authority the apostle has informed him that his ministry there will soon come to an end.

So how about holding Titus up to the light and turn him. And you discover he's genuine in that he's willing to defer to God's authority in his life. He's willing to be interrupted. Beloved God not only orders the steps of his children he orders their stops too. In fact what I want to point out now is that Paul doesn't know it but his plans are about to be interrupted too. His life's going to change. Did you notice where Paul said he's going to winter. Nicopolis.

Not a bad choice. It's on the southern side of Greece. The city founded by the first Roman Emperor Octavian to celebrate his victory in battle over Mark Antony and Cleopatra. By comparing his plans that he delivers at the end of this letter with what he delivers to the believers in Rome you discover that his plans were to winter in Nicopolis to then go to Rome to serve the church there only briefly and to sort of repack restock and then to go from there to Spain.

That's been on his mind and his heart for some time now. Spain is sort of considered the end of the civilized world and Paul views this as the next great missionary stop. Some of the greatest minds in Rome had come from Spain. Seneca the prime minister was a Spaniard.

Lucan the poet laureate was a Spaniard. Paul couldn't wait to get to Spain. So he's effectively saying look I'm going to be sure to send to the island of Crete.

I'm praying about that. God hadn't made that clear yet but I know where I'm going to spend the winter. It's Nicopolis and then I'm off to Rome and then to Spain. Got that nailed down and God says oh not so fast.

Artemis did arrive in Crete. Titus did leave for Nicopolis but we know that Paul was arrested there and he is taken to Rome not to meet with the church but to serve a sentence in chains and he will never make it to Spain. Both men have put their entire lives into their plans and their ministries and they were both interrupted so hold them both up to the light and look at them. They're both going to defer to the authority ultimately of their chief shepherd. Tony Snow a believer who served as the press secretary for a while for George W. Bush battled cancer before passing away a few years ago. As a believer he was interviewed and asked you know what are the spiritual lessons you're learning and I found it interesting. He said with a smile he said well I've learned that we want to live lives of predictable ease and smooth even trails as far as the eye can see but I've learned that God likes to go off road and that good does he ever. Paul is going to be arrested for the final time Titus will have his winter plans changed and then he'll be off to an entirely new ministry in Dalmatia. Artemis will set up a new ministry listen all of this is going to change for these men within a matter of months but isn't that Christianity isn't that your life and mind isn't that really the story. That's real.

That's real. Smooth roads and and clear pathways and you think now this is Christianity and boy it's a quick turn and all of a sudden you're off road. No paved roads. No map. No GPS.

No Cracker Barrel in sight. You know how bad can it get. What's on your list of expectations. There are three things I'm going to do this year. There are two things that I don't expect to experience.

I'm going to I plan to retire in five years or 10 years or 15 years and then off to this life. I'm planning on graduating and entering my career in this field or that field and now look there's nothing wrong with planning in fact Paul and Titus are neck deep in it but their plans are written in pencil and they've given their authority the opportunity to erase and to rewrite and they defer to the wisdom and plan of God. You see when we say that we're following a sovereign God we need to understand that it may mean we follow him even when he takes us off road even when we discover that he doesn't owe us an explanation as he orders our steps and our stops. That's authentic Christianity.

Anything else is a cheap knockoff that isn't real. It's revealed through honest dilemmas. It's revealed by personal deference to authority.

Thirdly it's revealed by selfless deeds. Paul writes in verse 13 diligently help Zenas the lawyer and a palace on their way so that nothing is lacking for them. Well now Paul surprises the entire church by saying let's pass the plate. Let's have a special offering Zenas and the palace are evidently the couriers of this letter we call Titus delivering it to Titus but they're both on their way to other locations and so Paul wants Titus to use this opportunity to teach the church how to give to somebody we might refer to today as a missionary who's traveling through who has another ministry to go to or has needs needs support temporarily or maybe vocationally or full time. The church might have said well that wasn't in our budget.

Well God's going to change your plans and mine too. Being selfless can be costly but it's one of the characteristics of those who are pursuing authenticity. There's still more for us to learn from this text but we're going to come back to that next time. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen pastors a church in Cary North Carolina. You can learn more about us and our ministry by visiting wisdomonline.org. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible lessons we also have a magazine that includes articles written by Stephen to help you explore various topics.

The magazine also has a daily devotional guide and you can use that each day to remain grounded and rooted in God's word and we send Heart to Heart magazine to all of our wisdom partners but we'd love to send you a sample issue if you'd like to see it for yourself. You can sign up for it on our website or you can call us today. Our number is 866-48-Bible. That's 866-48-Bible. Call today. We're so glad you were with us and I hope you'll be with us again for more Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-25 13:25:46 / 2023-05-25 13:35:17 / 10

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