Series: Paul’s Letters
Titus 3:4-7 ESV
Philemon 1:4-6 ESV
Two sections of scripture seldom mentioned as being key verses to memorize are found in the books of Titus and Philemon.
Titus was written by Paul to Titus, a “true child in the common faith” (Titus 1:4).
Paul starts out by outlining the selection and definition of elders for the church in Crete. In early sections Paul also addresses sound doctrine, the character of older men and women and younger men and women, and upright living as believers wait for Christ to return.
In Chapter 3 Paul addresses what good works look like through goodness, loving-kindness and mercy.
In Titus 3:4-7 good words to remember tell us, “when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
A key phrase to remember is that we are regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit (even daily).
While I heard of the Holy Spirit as a child and I understood the Spirit was part of the Trinity, I had not personally encountered anyone who had been filled by the gift of the Spirit who exhibited outward signs of the Spirit.
I do not believe that was because my church did not believe in the workings of the Spirit of God on earth. Sermons were preached about the Spirit and the Spirit was clearly discussed in church.
It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that I encountered other believers who spoke about being filled with the Spirit. When I was first married we heard of a church in another part of the city that was vibrant and growing. When we investigated we heard sermons that were down to earth but were filled with good contend and application.
The lead pastor spoke about the gifts of the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit.
It was from a context I hadn’t encountered.
All I knew is that I wanted to hear more about being filled with the power of God by the Spirit.
Those years, those sermons, and the people I met changed my view of the Spirit and power of God forever.
I couldn’t read enough about the power of God in our lives. At the time I didn’t know it as the Charismatic Movement, but I was certainly drawn to learning as much as I could learn about the power of the Spirit of God in my life.
Those early years sparked a flame that changed how I pray and interact with God.
Thankfully, I had many many discussions with my dad during those years. I developed a deep desire to spend time listening to God and I wanted to be open to the movement of the Spirit.
Years later when I was a student of a wonderful Spiritual Director he spoke of “making space for God”. My Spiritual Director helped me to seek and appreciate the silence of God.
I came to appreciate the movement of the Spirit of God when I rested and waited on God.
It became a lifetime pursuit.
Every word of scripture opened new doors. For example when Titus wrote about justification by grace I learned to sit with God to asked the Spirit to teach me about how God can graciously and fully give me freedom (absolution from) man made guilt. I learned how to rely on God and the Spirit of God to reach me in a personal way.
I learned to ponder and wait on the Spirit to teach me.
My Spiritual Director called it giving God ‘space’. I came to deeply appreciate the Spirit of God as my teacher and guide.
I found new depth in scripture that I didn’t know existed. I learned how to read scripture slowly and wait for the Spirit to move in it.
During that time in my life I experienced great personal suffering. I divorced after 30 years of marriage. To make matters worse, it was a ministry divorce. I lost everything I’d known.
What I did not lose was scripture, the movement of the Spirit of God through scripture, hearing God in the deep places of my despair, and waiting for God to lead me.
I found a new church and God led me to wonderful marvelous believers who prayed for me and helped me understand how to “breathe” again.
It was there that God renewed my call to ministry. I led a team of gifted healing pray-ers.
Then late one summer night God whispered to me, “come”. I thought, okay. Where are we going?
God whispered, ‘Seminary’.
Ohhhh, wow. I’m way too old (I was 54 years old).
I can’t quit my day job (God said I could do both).
For every excuse God had a solution and so I applied. I received confirmation of acceptance within hours.
So…off to graduate school I went.
Many many many people prayed for me and their prayers blessed and carried me on a marvelous Seminary adventure.
Paul wrote in Philemon 1:4-6, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
Philemon blessed Paul in the Spirit and Paul blessed Philemon.
The Spirit carried me on my impossible journey just like the Spirit carried Philemon.
AND…it was a most wonderful journey!
Spiritual Practice: The Spirit
Sit in silence and let the Spirit carry you.
In God, Deborah