Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
Thoughts for Today:As I read our passage today, Paul's comments regarding Titus resounded with me personally. I am overwhelmed by the goodness, grace and mercy of God, and so thankful that He provides a way for us to serve Him. Each time we participate with Him in ministry, we are led to a greater understanding of His nature and will. This is particularly true of my most recent mission trip to China.
When God first put into my heart His desire for me to connect with an outgoing mission team to China, I was a little reluctant. What was I to do -- join a bunch of strangers and go to a country I didn't really know much about to minister and share the Gospel? But that's what God asked me to do, so I went. Previously, I didn't have more than a casual interest in the country or the people of China, yet God called me to serve there. I'm sure it's very similar to the way in which the Lord placed His concern for the Corinthians into the heart of Titus. In our passage today, Paul reveals four of the steps God uses to invite us to participate in His ongoing work:
1. Be open to the appeal. The Corinthians' need had been expressed by Paul, and the others in his party, on multiple occasions. Titus heard this petition for support and was touched in a meaningful way. But here's the important part: "he welcomed our appeal". In other words, Titus allowed the call for help to move him to do more, to get involved, and be a part of the solution. He had a heart that was open to their petition.
2. Make a decision. Titus heard the concern and he also responded with the decision to go to them. This is perhaps the most critical part of the process -- we have free will, so making a decision to join God in His work is our decision alone (with the support of our families). Once we make that decision ("he is coming to you"), God will move and alter many of the obstacles we may encounter. But, the process doesn't begin until we decide.
3. Be enthusiastic. Joining God in His work is an honor; therefore our attitude should be one of humility and joyful obedience. We need to allow our passion and excitement to influence everything we do -- both in preparation and fulfillment. Paul described Titus as "...coming to you with much enthusiasm." What a wonderful summary of the attitude we must have to be effective in any ministry endeavor.
4. Take the initiative. Many people miss the blessing of participating in missions because they wait for other people to plan, organize and execute. Initiative, by definition, is the first step in a process that, once taken, determines what happens next. God wants us to be fully engaged in His work -- and that means using the talents and abilities He's given us. What are yours? What are you best at? What first step will you take? Every member of the team is critical to its collective success -- including you!
Questions to Ponder:God moved me to write our devotion today to answer the many questions I receive from people regarding how, why, or if they should become involved in mission work. By virtue of even asking the question, it tells me that God is working in a person's heart to participate. What is God speaking to you about right now? What work has He placed into your heart? Don't spend a lot of time trying to understand or rationalize the desire. If it's from God, His purpose most likely will only be revealed by your involvement. Now that you know how to, the question remains: Will you respond?