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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Not By Us

Series: Renewal

Caption: Surrounded by lovely colorful flowers you contemplate, not by us and our righteousness, but we are saved according to God’s mercy

Titus 3:5 ESV

Titus 1:1-4 ESV

Titus 1:5 ESV

Titus 3:3-8 MSG

My earliest remembrance of God and Jesus the Son was that I was loved.

I also remember watching my dad take communion before I was old enough to participate. I knew my dad really loved God.

I remember my first Sunday School teacher loved me and she treated me special. She treated every child special.

We always went to church and I liked going to Sunday School and sitting by my dad in big church.

When I was a little older (but still in grade school) I had a strange feeling that I wanted to go forward during the last song so I could be baptized. My brother was baptized some time before and I knew what it was…I knew it meant I was saying I wanted Jesus in my life.

Then when I was in Junior High School my church went to the Billy Graham Crusade at Arrowhead Stadium. That night changed my life forever. The instant I walked into the stadium hurricane force winds swept through me. After that, God spoke to me when I prayed and I had dreams that came true a while after I had the dream. I also had visions. My dad helped me to understand my visions and dreams.

Titus 3:5 says, “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.”

I didn’t do anything good to deserve being saved, but God saved me and the Spirit has been my ever present guide for almost sixty years.

It took time for me to understand sin and asking God to forgive me, but my dad helped me to understand why that was important.

Everything with God was instant but it evolved as I grew older and I could understand more.

I remember the first time the Spirit came to guide me, and since that day God has been my ever present helper and guide. God has never failed me. There were times I grew impatient, but God always came through.

We know from Titus I:1-4, “I, Paul, am God’s slave and Christ’s agent for promoting the faith among God’s chosen people, getting out the accurate word on God and how to respond rightly to it. My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn’t break promises! And then when the time was ripe, he went public with his truth. I’ve been entrusted to proclaim this Message by order of our Savior, God himself. Dear Titus, legitimate son in the faith: Receive everything God our Father and Jesus our Savior give you!”

When I turned 20 years old I knew God had a plan for me. I didn’t know what it was, but in time I met a fellow who was studying to be a pastor. We married and serve in six different churches.

Then, suddenly everything changed and I was alone again, but God sent me to a wonderful church that helped me to pick up the pieces of my life. God called me to ministry when I was 54 years old and I went to Seminary. I didn’t expect to go to Seminary, but it was a great journey and I’m glad God sent me on that journey.

Through it all God has been my guide.

Because of my journey I understand a little about what the Apostle Paul and others experienced as they served God and spread the good news of Jesus on their Missionary Journeys.

I love reading Paul’s encouraging letters to churches, but especially to younger people who were called to serve God.

Titus was one of the men Paul encouraged and helped. Titus was one of those men he helped.

We know that Titus ministered on the Island of Crete because Titus 1:5 tells us, “I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done.”

Paul had a way of starting and helping to start congregations and training younger people to continue the work.

Titus 3:3-8 in the Message puts it in plain language. “It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, easy marks for sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.”

Through the years I’ve often wondered if Paul had any idea how important his letters would be to others who would follow.

I wonder if he knew we would encourage thousands (millions) who came after and served Jesus.

Did he have any idea that we would read his letters over and over again and the Spirit of God would speak to us, helping us to serve?

Did Paul know there would be times when we would feel confused and uncertain as we served?

What’s amazing is that God DID know all of that. God knew Paul’s words would help young pastors, pastor’s wives, and others who are called to share the Gospel message for hundreds and even thousands of years. God knew we would need to be encouraged and guided by the Spirit as we read Paul’s words.

God knew all along, against all odds those of us who came after who knew absolutely nothing about how to really serve God that we would read Paul’s letters and we would pray and listen to the Spirit, and we would find our way by God’s grace to serve in churches and on the streets.

God knew the night I walked into Arrowhead Stadium and said “yes” to whatever God had for me… it was not by me. God even knew that Paul’s letter to Titus would remind us why we were serving. God knew all along.

It certainly was not by us.

Spiritual Practice: Serve

Ask God to help you to serve where you are planted and remember how God has blessed you.

In God, Deborah


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