Philemon

I remember my chains, Lord, and I remember my chains are GONE.

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“Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, ‘Oh, thank You, God!’  I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other Christians.  And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.  Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers.” (v 3-7 MSG)

Father, You have placed so MANY people in my life to whom I could say these same words Paul used in writing to Philemon … so many for whom I am utterly grateful!  There are those through whom You’ve conveyed Your love to me, in whose face I’ve seen Your face, in whose touch I’ve felt Your embrace, in whose voice I’ve heard Your compassion, mercy, and joy.  Thank You for enhancing my life in so many ways through the lives You’ve connected to my own.  Thanks for using each nexus of friendship in a different way in different seasons of my life to keep shaping me into the likeness of Jesus.  Amen.

FREE

Titus 3

Cause the Jesus in me to be seen today more than the me in me, Lord.

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“It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back.” (v 3 MSG)

Father, thank You for freeing me from a life without You, one that’s a slave to the system of sin.  You sent Your people alongside me to show me Your ways and to lay before me the choice to follow You or to remain as I was.  Praise to You, Lord, for knowing just how to reach me! …for calling out to me in a manner to which I would respond.  How well You know me!  “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Ps 139:14 NIV).  “You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something” (Ps 139:13-14 MSG).

“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” (v 4-8 MSG).

All my sins were washed away, Lord!  Thank YOU!

Your Son’s death on that cross redeemed my life, freeing me from sin’s grip.

Your forgiveness, Father, has freed me from sin’s penalty.

Your Spirit has freed me from sin’s power.

All three aspects of Who You are have been at work orchestrating this emancipating, cleansing, and renewing act of Your grace.

NOTHING I have done, am doing, will do, or could ever do has brought this about or earned it.  My right-standing with You is purely a gift directly from You, because You love me!  Thank You for this new life that’s free of sin’s reign, that’s been washed clean by Your Son’s blood, and this is being continually transformed to be just like Him!  Amen.

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“As you share God’s grace through a life lived in love… you become HIS hands, HIS feet, HIS voice.” — Shelley Breen in Steady On by Point of Grace, p. 100.

Titus 2

Cause the Jesus in me to be seen today more than the me in me, Lord.

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“You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine … In your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned…” (v 1, 7-8 NIV)

“Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine … But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane…” (v 1, 7-8 MSG)

My words, my actions, my expressions, and my reactions all serve as avenues through which a curriculum is taught to others by my life.  The essential question, as sparked by Your Words in this passage, Lord, is “What lessons are being caught by the ‘students’ who receive this ‘teaching’ of mine?”  Is the instruction conveyed by my example and efforts sound, solid, serious, sane and showing integrity?  This can only be true when I have surrendered myself to You first as my Master Teacher, allowing Your Spirit to guide me in applying Your instruction to my life.  May this be so, Lord.  Make me a disciple who truly reflects her Teacher’s wisdom, heart, and example.

“…so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us … so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” (v 8, 10 NIV)

“…Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around… Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God.” (v 8, 10 MSG)

Herein lies the ultimate goal of having the “teachings” that are conveyed by my own life being grounded firmly in You, Lord.  When my teaching, whether directly or indirectly, pre-planned or unrehearsed, initiated or invited conveys a true, simple and clear picture of Your Son, then the “student” has less cause for questioning the content’s validity.  Rather, the student might more readily be drawn to know this Savior, who longs for an intimate relationship with him or her.

May my life be like a garnish on the main dish found only in Your Word, Father.  May others taste and see that You are so very, very good!

“God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public.  Salvation’s available for everyone!  We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life.  This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears.  He offered Himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people He can be proud of, energetic in goodness.” (v 11-14 MSG)

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior.  Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (v 11-14 NIV)

Thank You for Your grace that teaches me how to live in obedience to You, that assures me that my grade with You is already an “A.”  All You ask me to do is to remain a faithful student.  In return, You continue to teach me about Yourself, Your will, and Your purpose for me, as You also purify my life, making me more and more like Jesus.  Amen.

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“As you share God’s grace through a life lived in love… you become HIS hands, HIS feet, HIS voice.” — Shelley Breen in Steady On by Point of Grace, p. 100.

Titus 1

Cause the Jesus in me to be seen today more than the me in me, Lord.

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You lay out several qualities here for a leader within Your Church, Lord; yet the portion that has grasped my attention in this passage is “He must HOLD FIRMLY TO the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can ENCOURAGE OTHERS by sound doctrine and REFUTE those who oppose it” (v 9 NIV).  In The Message, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson, this is worded as “have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.”

HOLD FIRMLY TO

Your Word is completely reliable.  No matter how many human hands had a part in putting together this Bible I’ve been reading/studying for years … no matter how many centuries have passed or original manuscripts  have been lost or found … no matter how many voices have tried to malign its credibility, Your Truth is still all together true and trustworthy.  No matter what false teachings have infiltrated the minds of people in this world today, YOU are still God.  You are El Shaddai, God Almighty.  You are Adonai, my Lord!  You are I Am!

As I sit here and breathe in the oxygen around me, by mouth, nose and trachea take it into my lungs and this necessary element is absorbed into my body.  I must have this air to survive, to move, to live.  Cause Your Word to be as vital to my mind, heart, and spirit as oxygen is to my body.  May my eyes breathe in the letters on the pages of Your Word as my mind absorbs and assimilates the concepts, principles, promises, commands, and thoughts of Your Word.

As I am transformed by inhaling Your Truth, may my life exhale an example of obedience and a reflection of Jesus.  The passage points out two ways in which You desire for Your Word to go forth from me, once I have a firm hold upon it:

ENCOURAGE

“Encourage others by sound doctrine” is Your first direction for me.  Use me, Lord, to appeal to others through all means of teaching them to cling to Your Word and to grow in their knowledge of, obedience to, and sharing of that Truth that sets them free.  Keep me grounded in Your Word so that what I convey is sound and in line with Your will.  Use me to spur others on in applying Your Word to life.

REFUTE

Not every person I encounter will be a believer who needs a bit of encouragement to keep going and remain focused on You.  You’ve warned me and reality has shown me that there will be people who cross my path who will indeed oppose Your Word.

In other parts of Your Word You have conveyed how to point others to Your truth: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that You may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6) NIV).  “…in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).

By Your grace, You have acquainted me with Your Word, Father.  It’s by that same grace that I go forth each day, dependent on You, infused with Your Word, and focused on Your Son.  It’s not the “I” but the “You” in me that must go forth.  No matter how many times I fall down or blunder in my efforts to remain faithful, YOU are the One who pours Your Word into this humble vessel, so that other lives can be encouraged and guided toward Your Son, as You keep making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

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“As you share God’s grace through a life lived in love… you become HIS hands, HIS feet, HIS voice.” — Shelley Breen in Steady On by Point of Grace, p. 100.

Next Set of Devo-Prayers: Titus

Through these Devo-Prayers, we stepped through the Gospels–the books of the Bible that tell the account of Jesus’ life on earth (Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke). We journeyed through Luke’s other work, the book of Acts, which gives a historical account of the birth of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Then, we began diving into the letters that Paul wrote to the saints, or believers/Christians, in various cities or regions.  Those included his letter to believers in Rome (Romans) and then his letters to the believers in Corinth (1st and 2nd Corinthians), the region of Galatia (Galatians), Ephesus (Ephesians), Philippi (Philippians), and Colosse (Colossians), the first letter Paul wrote to believers in Thessalonica (1st & 2nd Thessalonians). Next, we strolled through the two letters that Paul wrote to Timothy, a young preacher whom he mentored in the faith.

Next, we’ll go through the letter Paul wrote to Titus, whom Paul led to the faith.  Titus was a considerable help to Paul in his ministry, as a capable and resourceful leader.

Devo-Prayers ~ Praying through the Scriptures

Each posting contains a first-person prayer based on a particular chapter or passage from the Bible. The Bible passage reference is provided above the devotional prayer, so you can also refer to the scripture which inspired the prayer. Posts that are found via Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn usually provide an excerpt from the full post.

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Philippians 4:10-23; Psalm 73:23-28

In times of plenty, in times of want, YOU are still God.

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“Who is there in heaven but You, Lord?
And earth has nothing desirable besides You!
Flesh and heart may fail, but You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
I am always with You; You hold her by Your right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel, into Your truth, protecting me from being deceived by the concepts of this world. And one day, You’ll take me into glory to be with You forever!”

How very good it is to be near to You, Father! You, the Sovereign Lord, are my refuge. Help me to tell of all Your deeds by my words, my actions, my entire life!

You are God in times of plenty and You are still God in times of need… whatever the “riches” may be–money, time, friends, significance, direction, familiar faces, basic essentials, family bonds, avenues of ministry, skills/talents, etc.  You provide me the strength to do whatever lies before me.  And, You, my God, will meet ALL–not some, not only a few, but ALL! my needs according to Your glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

You are already at work to provide all that I need, helping me to sort out my needs and wants and “wait fors.”

Keep me right up next to Your heart and cause my own heart and mind to hunger for Your Word, more than anything else. Shape my mind, my perspective on life here by Your Truth. To You, our God and Father, be glory forever and ever!  Amen.

Philippians 4:1-9

In times of plenty, in times of want, YOU are still God.

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Ah, Father! Your presence is like nothing else!  The light of Your face—the warmth of Your embrace— the whisper of Your voice—the assurance of Your love!!  When Your character and nature are in full view, how easy it becomes to “rejoice in the Lord always.”

For this day and those to come, help me in all things to stand firm in You.  Allow others to see You in me, to know that You are near.

Remind me, as often as it takes, to stop being anxious about anything—to stop worrying over stuff, to stop trying to sort out stuff on my own.  Rather, help me to speak each thing to You in prayer, asking YOU for Your help, and thanking You for whatever You will do to affect the situation.  And thank You, Father, for the promise of Your peace when I do this. …Your peace that is far too great for me to completely understand—Your peace that is able to guard, protect, defend my mind (thought life) and her heart (emotions, who I am) in Christ Jesus.

Work Your will in my mind so that my thoughts are focused only on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—anything excellent or praiseworthy.  Cause me to think on such things.  When my mind strays or gets caught up in things contrary or counterfeit to these, grab my attention and redirect my thinking. Thanks for the peace You promise to bring when I do!!

Thanks for the things You’ve been teaching me all along as You’ve nurtured my faith in You.  Thanks for continuing to shape me into someone who’s learning to trust what You say, to trust You to be Who You say You are, to do what You say You’ll do.  Use me to cause other hearts to look to You even more. Make me even more like Jesus.  Amen.