GE-31 21st Century Men of Grace: Reverence - Staying Focused on God In a World of Distractions

As we open to Titus 2:7, we return to the 21st Century Men of Grace Series we have been studying this past year.

As you turn back to that little New Testament epistle of Titus, here is a quick overview and back ground to this passage:

  • Titus was a companion in the ministry of Paul, one of two special young pastors that had been mentored and sent out by the Apostle Paul.
  • The letters or Epistles that Paul wrote to Timothy (who was serving the Church at Ephesus) and Titus (who was a missionary church planter to the Island of Crete) are collectively called the Pastoral Epistles and describe the specifics of how local New testament churches were to be led and taught.
  • Titus 2:1-8 contains a curriculum for every church that has 24 qualities God desires to see in His children.
  • Twelve of those qualities are specifically directed at women of all ages, which we have already studied through, one-by-one. These are God's desires for 21st Century Women of Grace.
  • The other twelve qualities are the desires God has for 21st Century Men of Grace.
  • We are in the 4th quality of the second half of that list of 12, which are pointed at all of the younger men, because:

Tomorrow's Godly Men Start Today 

Paul tells Titus that God put the spotlight on the next generation of leaders for Christ's church. The young men, who want to grow up to be the godly and mature servants of God must begin while they are young to cultivate these six qualities. Do you have them noted? Here they are again, starting in v.6:

v. 6 "Likewise exhort the young men":

"to be sober-minded", v. 7: First in any godly man's life is a firm resolve to Live a Restrained Life in an Unrestrained World;

  1. "in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works": Next, these men seek to Follow Christ In A Christ-less World;
  2. "in doctrine showing integrity"[1]: This is the call to the personal integrity of Believe Right so we Behave Right;
  3. "reverence": God is asking every one of us as men to: Stay Focused on God In A World of Distractions; (This is the NT Greek word # 4587-semnotes rendered as "reverence" in the NKJV); gravity (KJV); dignity (ESV); seriousness (NIV); dignified (NAS):

This fourth quality of "reverence" is God's appeal to younger men to abandon the distractions of life that will steal so many years of their lives. God says don't get into time-wasting habits. Get your eyes fixed on me as Hebrews 12 says, and lay aside those easily besetting sins that will distract you from really knowing me. For a moment turn onward in your Bibles from Titus 2, and find Hebrews 12. Titus, Philemon, and then Hebrews: it is a close book. Hebrews 12:1-4, please read God's similar appeal in these familiar words:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

God desires younger men to choose to keep a singular focus upon Him in this horribly distracting world. One of the most vital choices any young man can ever make is to:

Lock Your Mind onto God  

It is amazing how something we really want can capture our attention. Some young men can't stop thinking about that car they want, or that girl they saw, or that sport they love, or that activity they enjoy. Often their minds captured by the desires for something they want can make them zone out in school, at home, in church and everywhere. They are locked onto that desire. That intense, mind-riveting desire is the focus God says: Give to Me. God wants us to seek Him and find Him when we seek Him with ALL of our heart.

During our last summer in Tulsa a friend gave us tickets to the PGA tournament, before Tiger Wood's started his well publicized fall from his lofty reputation as an iconic golfer.

What I most remember as we stood not ten feet from him on that 18th hole was not how drenched with sweat he was out in the blazing sun, nor his impeccable outfit, precision golf clubs, or anything else except this: he was COMPLETELY focused on the ball.

He looked at the shot he needed to take way too many times, from way too many angles. He crouched, he stepped back, he made himself examine the course the ball had to travel from almost every angle possible, and then stepped up confidently to take that final putt.

But he did all that calculating as if he did not even see the thousands of us straining at the rope barriers, thousands more all glued to their perches in the grand stands, or even the millions of eyes that were on him via television cameras capturing his every move.

Tiger Woods had an incredibly disciplined and practiced ability to FOCUS! That learned, chosen practice of intense, concentration of something that is worth ignoring everything else for is reverence. Tiger Woods had a "reverence" for his game, a complete focus that nothing else at that moment could distract him from. Golf was worth more than any momentary distraction. Have you ever focused upon God that way?

That choice to ignore anything that could get you off course with God is exactly what the Lord wants from young men today. This word we are examining today means:

Staying Focused on God in a World of Distractions

Paul reintroduces us to this quality we have already seen for older men (reverence is the second quality listed in v. 2).

All men whether older or younger, are called to have this kind of singular focus upon a godly, reverent lifestyle. This word "reverence" in word studies that have been published variously describe a man with: a "seriousness about life, a dignified lifestyle, and a goal of pursuing whatever honors God".

Reverence doesn't mean never laughing, showing humor, or enjoying life-rather it means because God is your focus, you check in first with Him, to be sure that the laughter, humor, and enjoyment are pleasing to Him.

This grace-prompted reverence leads men to make to constant choices to avoid the trivial distractions that can consume days, weeks, and months of our lives; and instead of distraction, to focus upon the pursuit of the eternal.

A focused life is what each of us should desire to give to God today.

  • Focus on light and you get a laser burst.
  • Focus on water and you get some commercial cutting applications.
  • Focus on atoms and you get some momentary atomic power.
  • Focus on money and you get a passing fortune like a Rockefeller, Gates, or Buffet.

But-focus your life on Jesus Christ and you get an eternal reward and endless delights.

Learning How to Focus on God

How is your focus this morning? I recently was struggling seeing with my new glasses. They were made by the best doctor, prepared in the best lab as a special gift for me heading out in ministry-but they were a bit fuzzy. I went in and found that the blurred vision was neither the glasses nor my eyes, it was just one of the nose pads had gotten bent. Just a tiny correction and the world was all clear again.

How clearly are you seeing God these days? Crystal clear, bright and empowering, or has God gotten blurred over the days and weeks of life that has gone by?

One great benefit of this chosen lifestyle of "reverence" for God is that when we do so we see Him in His glory and it changes us. As we open to Isaiah 33, we see the continuing effect that Isaiah's sight of God in chapter 6 had upon his life.

Remember he saw the Lord, felt His holiness, and experienced the sanctifying power of cleansing and consecration. But for Isaiah that wasn't a one-time event that led to a lifelong pursuit of reverence. ReadIsaiah 33:14-17:

Isaiah first asks who gets to spend time enjoying the Presence of God, using concepts we later see in the book of Hebrews about our God who is a "Consuming Fire" (Hebrews 12:29):

Isaiah 33:14b-17 (NKJV) "Who among us shall dwell with the Devouring Fire? 

Who among us shall dwell with Everlasting Burnings?"

The answer to that question comes in v. 15 with a list of distractions to be avoided:

15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,

He who despises the gain of oppressions,

Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,

Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,

And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:

Then the reward for staying focused on God in a world of distractions is offered. This is what makes godly people make the choices to focus on God:

16 He will dwell on high; [This is the incredible opportunity for: Closeness to God.]

His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; [This is the incredible offer of: True Life-long Security.]

Bread will be given him, [This is the incredible reminder that when we spend time with God: He satisfies us, we NEVER have empty and unsatisfied souls.]

His water will be sure. [This is the description of a refreshed life: Jesus said in John 7 that when we come to Him He gives rivers of life giving refreshing waters to flow out of our life by His Spirit.]

17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; [This is the incredible opportunity for: Spiritual Insights, if we seek Him we find Him in all His Beauty when we seek Him with ALL our hearts.]

They will see the land that is very far off. [This is the pilgrim mentality of Hebrews 11: they made it by all the distractions of life because they sought a better place, a Heavenly place. They laid aside the weights that beset them and ran the road that was heading towards Heaven.]

That list of promised benefits is worth more than we can ever imagine.

All of those spiritual treasures are offered to those who REVERENCE GOD, choosing one-day-at-a-time to focus their life on Him and ignore the distractions.

So that is the lesson of our Bible study this morning. But now comes the most important part: the APPLICATION to MY life.

Just like in personal Bible study, when we gather as a church and hear God's Word we have to come to a point of decision.

Am I going to be just a hearer of the Word or a doer. God says don't miss out on my blessings by just listening and walking away and forgetting all you heard: BE DOERS.

Isaiah 33 before us reminds us that OUR God offers to all who focus upon Him the very greatest treasures, when we reverence Him by avoiding those distractions that so easily beset us. The application of this life of reverence is a time of considering some:

Choices that Strengthen Our Focus upon God

  1. Grace-prompted Young Men (and all the rest of us) who Focus on God will choose to: Start Godly Habits (Romans 13:14).

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. NKJV

There are twin imperatives here. "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ" and "Make no provision" are both commands from God.

A command or imperative means an action we must make, and God awaits our response to what He asks us to do.

So the One who bought and paid for us by His own blood says first of all: I command you to put on Christ in the form of new chosen daily habits.

And secondly He commands: MAKE NO provision to feed, strengthen and supply the old you, your flesh. Don't feed your lusts.

Remember that an imperative in Scripture means that He WAITS for a response.

God is waiting for you to either begin or reaffirm your response.

What is our answer to His command that each of us:

  • Choose to put on Christ (which comes through the Word, prayer, and walking in the Spirit); and
  • Make no provision (which is cut off all supply routes).

 It is either yes I will do that, or no I won't. The Christian life has no middle ground.

Simple Personal Choices

At the start of this New Year why not decide to cultivate some godly habits?

If you are distracted from God by websites, TV shows, magazines, games, music, videos, and so on, that are less than Christ-like, destroy them. If there are avenues that defile and deaden your reverence for God, such as cable TV/HBO and ungodly internet access, get rid of them.

Do whatever it takes to starve the evil desires of your flesh, and those of your family. Put on Christ by starving your flesh!

How do we start? Here are 5 small choices you could make in this New Year that can completely change the focus of your life away from the distractions of the world and onto the God who waits for your attention each day. Each of these little choices starve the old habits and lusts we have built up, and allow us to start strengthening the new us we have in Christ. Grab a pen and jot one or more of these down, and prayerfully decide you will begin some of these godly new habits:

  1. Make a choice to: Read God's Word before email or any online activities each morning. That choice reflects Christ's Words in Matthew 6:33 "Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God".
  2. Make a plan for : Creating an intentional place of solitude, so that you can not only read God's Word, but also avoid any distractions until you can prayerfully apply the lesson you found: into your own life. That is the MOST VITAL part of each day's devotional time. Jesus called this in Matthew 4:4 "living by every word of God".
  3. Decide you will start a new habit to: Pray in the car or meditate on a verse instead of listening to the radio or music for 15 minutes a day. This can transform our car time into an altar of sacrifice to God. Many of us are all alone in the car, except that Someone else is there, often sitting right next to us in the front seat. God is waiting for us to talk to Him, invite Him into our day and just acknowledge that He tags around with us everywhere we go.
  4. Take the huge step of fasting from the ultimate distraction of Media: Skip a day of reading online news, the newspaper or favorite magazines as a fast to prove you are not controlled by anything; and instead memorize one verse to meditate upon that feeds your soul.
  5. Finally, ask the Lord if He is able to give you enough of His grace for you to: Have a no-television/video/gaming week or month and see if you can study through an entire book of the Bible or read a great Christian classic.

So the One who bought and paid for us by His own blood says first of all:

I command you to put on Christ in the form of new chosen daily habits.

And secondly He commands: MAKE NO provision to feed, strengthen and supply the old you, your flesh. Don't feed your lusts.

Remember that an imperative in Scripture means that He WAITS for a response.

God is waiting for you to either begin or reaffirm your response.

What is our answer to His command that each of us:

  • Choose to put on Christ (which comes through the Word, prayer, and walking in the Spirit); and
  • Make no provision (which is cut off all supply routes).

It is either yes I will do that, or no I won't.

The Christian life has no middle ground.