Seven Keys to Living
             Titus 2:11-14
            By Paul Robison
                 This message was delivered, along with several others,  to our graduating Seniors.

 Ever notice how our tastes change as we mature?  Little girls like painted dolls; little boys like soldiers.  When they grow up, however, the girls like the soldiers, and the boys like the painted dolls.  Someone has said, “We better stop criticizing the younger generation.  If we can't keep up with them, then we can least get behind them.”  We hope that this day has shown our seniors that we are behind them, and that we are wanting the best for them. 

Titus 2:11-14 says: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”  
Those few verses give seven keys to living.  Keys that so often go against the grain of our American culture. 

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” 
Key one: Live graciously!  The Bible is a photo album of God's grace.  Paul tells Titus that it was not by our righteous works that we had done, but by God's kindness and love, we have been saved (3:4-5).  Sadly, we live in culture of violence where people vent their anger through cruelty.  But since God has been gracious to you, strive to live graciously!  Show the same kindness and love that He has given to you to others, and be a blessing for them and live in peace!  Live graciously! 

“Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age.”
   Key two: Live soberly!  God's Word has taught us that wickedness and pleasure-seeking are not enduring, and they usually end up bringing very painful consequences to our lives.  The media screams: “Live it up!  Have a little fun!  Let it all hang out!”  But they rarely show the bitter results of such selfishness.  Paul tells us instead of thinking fun all the time, we need to live soberly.  This doesn't mean that we can't live joyfully and that we have to tip toe around silently trying to make ourselves look pious.  But it does mean that we need think seriously and live seriously and responsibly.  Are we ready to die?  Our life really is just a vapor that's not here for very long (James 4:14).  All those who spoke this morning were once teenagers too, but we've aged, and we're all traveling toward the fruition of our mortality.  “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)!  Live soberly! 

Paul also says to live righteously!  That's key three.  This idea is one that really goes against our relativistic and pluralistic society!  Paul says there are rights and wrongs.  And we should chose to follow the righteous path taught in God's Word.  “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)!  You know, “If you live wrong, you can't die right” (Sunday in Rowell).  Don't lower God's standards of righteousness.   Someone once remarked: “God doesn't alter the robes of righteousness to fit the person, but He alters the person to fit the robes.”  Live righteously! 

Key four: Live godly!  Yes, let God be your example.  Jesus admonishes that you should be mature in your love for others and show mercy, just as your Father in heaven is mature in His love for all and merciful (Mt. 5:48; Luke 6:36).  Peter challenges you: “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).  Sadly, our culture lives on a worldly level and tries to push God out of the picture.  There's a movie called “A River Runs Through It,” and it depicts how a river become the focal point of a family that lived in Montana.  Dad taught lessons to his sons at the river, the sons proved their navigational skills by facing the river's rapids; one son became a champion fly-fisherman, and the river was a place to meditate as well.  May godliness be the river that runs through our lives as Christians.  Live godly! 

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
  Key five: Live longingly!  Can you image what it must have been like to be the wife of an Apollo astronaut and wait with both anxiety and excitement for a mission to reach its completion so that your husband can once again be back home and be part of the family?  They were looking longingly for their husbands' returns!  Our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus the Messiah should be so close that we too live longingly for His return!  One day he'll make that glorious appearing, and we've been anticipating it, and we're anxious for it, and we're ready for it!  We're ready to join Him, to embrace Him, to be with Him, and to live in His presence along with all the redeemed forever!  Live longingly! 

“Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed, and purify for Himself His own special people.”
  Key six: Live thankfully!  Jesus gave Himself for us!  Instead of mission to the moon, Jesus abandoned heaven and its angels for His mission to earth.  He took our place at the cross!  

One good brother imagines Him saying: “In your place, I cried: 'Forsaken!', so that in My place, you may now cry: 'Father!' In your place, I took your sinfulness, so that now in My place, you may take My righteousness!  In your place, I took your penalty; now, in My place, receive My reward” (Hall)!  

Never forget, you are loved very deeply by your Lord!  He gave Himself for you!  But not only that, He redeemed us from our lawless deeds and He purified us as well.  He paid the price to free us from Satan's slavery and gave us a brand new clean start, with the past record all erased!  Someone modified a familiar nursery rhyme to fit us: “Jesus Christ came to our wall, Jesus Christ died for our fall, So that regardless of death and in spite of our sin, through grace, He might put us together again” (Swindoll).  Since Jesus loved us, redeemed us, and purified us, shouldn't we live lives of gratitude to Him?  Live thankfully! 

“His own special people zealous for good works.”
 Key seven: Live helpfully!  Because God has so richly blessed us, we want to help others and be a blessing to them.  Take whatever talent God has given you, develop it and use it to help and to benefit others.  You will come to know joy upon joy as you pour your life into others' lives whatever your profession might be!  A missionary once said, “I used to ask God to help me.  Then I asked if I might help Him.  I ended up asking Him to do His work through me” (Taylor in Rowell).  Live helpfully! 

Seven keys to living from Titus 2:11-14: Live graciously, soberly, righteously, godly, longingly, thankfully, and helpfully! 
“You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day, by deeds that you do, by words that you say.  People read what you write, whether faithless or true.  Say, what is the gospel according to you?” (Rice in Swindoll).  Live as Paul admonished Titus!  Go against the grain of our American culture!  Let Jesus help put your life back together again!  Be ready for Jesus' return!