THINK: Do the people around know that you follow Jesus? Have you told them? Have you shown them? Can people who don't know you tell that there is something different about you, just by the way you conduct yourself? Do you say "No" to anything that could compromise your devotion to God or His standards? Do you say "Yes" to opportunities to do good, to honor God, to encourage others and to influence them for Christ? Could people get an accurate impression of what Jesus is like by what they see in you?
RESPOND: In what way should knowledge of the truth lead to godliness? (See 1: 1 note.) What standards and traits should characterize pastoral leadership (vv. 6-9)? What's expected of their families? What does it mean that ministers must be "blameless"? (See 1:7 note.) Why are the traits in verse 8 - including hospitality, self-control, holiness and discipline - vital for church leadership? Why and in what way must ministers "hold firmly to the trust- worthy message"? (See 1:9 note.) Who were "the circumcision group" (v. 10), and what destructive influence were they having? (See Galatians 2:12 note.) What motivated them (v. 11)? What do you think it means that "to the pure, all things are pure..."? (See 1:15 note.) What does true spiritual purity involve? How do some people who claim to know God actually deny Him by their actions? (See 1:16 note.) What behaviors and character traits should be evident in those who follow Christ? What is significant about the instructions given to each age and gender group (2:1-10)? Why and in what way is it important for older people in the church to train and influence younger people (vv. 4-5)? What special purposes and responsibilities do women have regarding their families and homes? (See 2:4-5 note.) Why does Paul instruct slaves as he does, and what influence could they have? (See 2:9-10 note.) What is God's "grace," and what is its purpose? (See 2:11 note.) Having received God's grace, what should you be able to learn and do in response to temptations and ungodliness? (See 2:12 note.) What does it mean to say "No" to these things? What is the "blessed hope" that Christ's followers are waiting for? (See 2:13 note.) What insight does verse 14 provide about why Jesus gave His life for us? (See 2:14 note.) How should this affect your daily life?
PRAY: Pray for your pastors and their families. Pray that your faith will be confirmed by your actions. Give God thanks for His grace and for the hope and strength it provides. Thank Him for the blessed hope of Jesus' return.
ACT: Pay particular attention to your attitudes and behaviors today. Be sure that they reflect your devotion to Christ. Exercise self-control by saying "No" to ungodly or questionable behavior and "Yes" to all that is Christlike.
THINK: While God doesn't want us to dwell on the past - the good or bad - He does want us to remember where we would be without Him. This inspires humility and compassion toward those who don't know Jesus. After all, we don't receive a relationship with Christ because of good works or right things we do. Rather, it's only by God's mercy that we are "born again" and renewed spiritually, as we simply surrender to Jesus and entrust our lives to Him.
RESPOND: What should be your attitude and conduct toward leaders and those in authority? (See 3:1 note.) Why is this important, and what can it accomplish? What must we keep in mind - and why must we remain humble - as we interact with those who don't know Jesus (vv. 3-5)? What does it mean that we are spiritually saved "through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit"? (See 3:5 note.) In what way has God poured out His Spirit on us generously? (See 3:6 note.) What does it mean to be justified by God's grace? (See articles on Biblical Words for Salvation, p. 1577, and Faith and Grace, p. 1590.) Why are controversies and quarrels typically "unprofitable and use- less" (v. 9)? In this passage, whom does Paul have in mind when he refers to "a divisive person," and how should church leaders respond to such a person? (See 3:10 note.) What does Paul have in mind when he says, "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good" (v. 14), and why is this important? (See 3:14 note.)
PRAY: Pray for leaders and authorities outside of your church, including teachers and school administrators, coaches and directors, job supervisors and government officials. Pray that God will give them wisdom and guidance.
ACT: Send a note or e-mail to one or more of the leaders you prayed for, expressing appreciation for their work and letting them know that you're praying for them. If you've recently had a tense quarrel with someone, contact the person to apologize and try humbly to settle the issue - without quarreling further.