2 Corinthians 13

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith.  Don’t drift along taking everything for granted.  Give yourselves regular checkups.  You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you.  Test it out.  If you fail the test, do something about it.” (v 5 MSG)

When I pause to consider the condition of my heart, Father, guide me in honestly looking at every part.  You moved into my heart many years ago.  How much access to the home of my heart have I really given you?

You desire for me to be just like Jesus, to have a heart like His.  You love me just the way I am, but You refuse to let me stay that way.  You’ve said in Your Word, “But you were taught to be made new in your hearts, to become a new person.  That new person is made to be like God — made to be truly good and holy” (Eph 4:23-24 NCV).

When I gave my life to You, You gave Yourself to me.  You have moved in and unpacked Your bags and are ready to change me “into Your likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18 RSV).  “Strange as it seems, we Christians actually do have within us a portion of the very thoughts and mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16 TLB).

You have big plans for me, Father, now that I have chosen to follow Jesus.  Your plan involves a total transformation of me, as Your Word describes, “He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son” (Rom 8:29 MSG).  I like Your plans, Father.  Here I am … Keep on carrying out Your transforming work in my life as You make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of YOU.” (2 Cor 13:14 MSG)

[A portion of today’s devo-prayer has been adapted or inspired from thoughts conveyed in Max Lucado’s book “Just Like Jesus” from Word Books, 1998. — get it, read it, you’ll LOVE it!!  🙂 ]
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2 Corinthians 12

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“Because of the extravagance of those revelations [as Paul described in v 1-6], and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations.  Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees.  No danger then of walking around high and mighty!  At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it.  Three times I did that, and then He told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’

“Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.  I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.  It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in my weakness.  Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size — abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.  I just let Christ take over!  And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.'”  (v 7-10 MSG)

Considering a continual weakness something to be excited about, Lord, is a difficult thing to do.  It’s definitely not the natural choice of my nature; but rather an act of the will, a choice made through Your spirit within me.  You summed it up so well with “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v 9 NIV)

Thank You for Your grace.  There are so many facets to this wondrous favor You bestow on me, even when I don’t deserve it.  You withhold justice through Your mercy and lavish Your love upon me by Your grace.

There’s a chorus from Women of Faith that says,

“But for Your grace I could not be saved
But for Your grace I would go my way
I’m forever grateful
That You have been faithful to me, Lord
And for Your amazing grace” *

Thank You for my weaknesses, Father.  Thanks for my limitations that make way for Your limitless power to be manifested in my life, as You keep making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 11

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough … In fact, You even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.” (v 4, 20 NIV)

Throughout my life, Father, You’ve been revealing the truth of Your Word to me.  You’ve been the One, through various means, to open the Scriptures to me and to help me understand the words You’ve shared.  Thank You for seeing to it that I am in touch with Your truth.

Let me never stray from Your truth–which is Jesus (John14:6)–but rather keep me keenly alert to impostors or smooth-talking teachers.  The enemy, as You’ve reminded me (2 Cor 11:13-15), can be sly, tricky, and subtle, while masquerading as a believer who teaches with authority.  Guide me in straining ALL teaching I hear.  Remind me to ask (1) “Do the teachings confirm Scripture (Acts 17:11)?   (2) Does the teacher affirm and proclaim that Jesus Christ is God who came into the world as a man to save people from their sins (1 John 4:1-3)? and (3) Is the teacher’s lifestyle consistent with Biblical morality (Matt 12:33-37)?” *

Keep on helping me to become more and more familiar with Your Word.  Cause me to feel “at home” in the pages of Scripture.  Just like a bank teller studies a genuine dollar bill thoroughly, so that a counterfeit is no match for his/her trained eye, make me well-versed in recognizing Your truth, in knowing Your Word, and then, help me to live out that which I know, as You keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

* NIV Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, p. 2107.

2 Corinthians 10

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.   We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT AND MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.”  (v 3-5 NIV)

Father, train me to pay attention to Your presence that’s with me.  You alone are a perpetual friend, a constant conversation companion, an ever-ready counselor, a steadfast source of security, comfort, and peace, a lasting love … YOU ALONE are all these things and more!

When my mind forgets this truth, remind me.  When my heart ignores You and gropes for its needs elsewhere, embrace me.  When my soul aches deep down and finds no rest on its own, envelope me, fill me, so that there’s no way I could consider any other source for my longings but You.

Make my heart a “God-intoxicated” one — turn my thoughts toward You in EACH MOMENT.  You are as close as my very breath always.  All it takes is for me to notice or remember that You’re present … to seek Your face, to seek Your counsel, to enjoy Your company.  Invade my every thought, Lord, so that my entire life is consumed with You.  Infiltrate my character so that others see YOU more than me when they are with me.  Make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 9

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, You will abound in every good work.” (v 7-8 NIV)

How You daily take care of me, Father!  You meet my simplest, most basic needs as well as the more intricate and involved ones. You have designed who I am.  You’ve seen who I have been.  You anticipate who I will become.  In ALL things surrounding my life, my being, YOUR hand is at work.  At ALL times, You are personally aware of my needs, hopes, longings, and You are involved.  You see to it that I continually have ALL that I need just when You know I need it.  It’s like Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, once said, “God’s work done in God’s way shall never lack God’s supply.”  You supply all that I need, so that You can use me in the lives of others who need to know You or grow closer to You.

“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, … your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God …men will praise God …for your generosity …and in their prayers for you…” (v 11-14 NIV)

What fun!  What a joy it is, Lord, when You show me that there’s something I have or can do that another person needs.  And look at the spiritual rewards You highlight through Paul’s words: Those who receive such gifts will be helped; they’ll praise You, God, and they’ll pray … just like You’ve designed Your Body to function!

In the way that Paul rounds out this chapter, I choose to agree, “Thanks be to You, my God, for Your indescribable gift!”  Thank You for the lives You’ve used to minister to mine.  Thank You for touching me through Jesus … for altering the course of my soul through Your sacrificial gift of Your Son’s life in my place, so that I might be free from sin.

Oh, Father!  Keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.  Keep my heart faithful to You.  Make Your will my will, as You mold me to become just like Jesus.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 8

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“…just as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us–see that you also excel in this grace of giving … For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich … For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he doesn’t have.” (8:7, 9, 12 NIV)

Father, thank You for the resources You supply.  Thanks for providing for my needs and for opportunities to share with others.  Thank You for accepting whatever size gift I can give based on what I have.  Take each gift, whether publicly shared or anonymously given, and bless it, so that the recipient is moved closer to the realization of Your deep and personal love for him or her.

Keep my motives pure and Christ-like as I give. Shape my will, my desires, my motives to fully resemble Your own.

Set my confidence firmly on You, so that it’s You in whom I trust to provide for my needs.  When I am confident in Your promise to take care of me, there’s no need to be selfish with what You supply.  Out of my something I can give to alleviate another’s nothing–and that’s not always a gift of money.  Move me to “excel in this grace of giving.” Make me just like Jesus. Amen.

2 Corinthians 7

Thank You, Lord, that You love me like no other.

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“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (v 1 NIV)

“…dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without.  Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.” (v 1 MSG)

You’ve said elsewhere in Your Word, Lord, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matt 5:8 NIV)  Help me to purify my heart and mind.  Guide me in choosing what I let my mind consume and dwell on.  Guard my heart, leading me away from setting my affections on things of this world rather than on You.  Cause all my longings to be only for You, for Your attention, Your love, and Your presence.  You supply so many good things in my life.  Keep me from becoming more attached to them than I am to You – that subtle form of idolatry, or setting people or things in the place reserved for only You, Lord.  Purify me.  Make this temple a holy place in which You dwell.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  See what godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done…” (7:10-11 NIV)

“…You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from Him.  The result was all gain, no loss.  Distress that drives us to God does that.  It turns us around.  It gets us back in the way of salvation.  We never regret that kind of pain.  But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.  And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God?  You’re more ALIVE, more CONCERNED, more SENSITIVE, more REVERENT, more HUMAN, more PASSIONATE, more RESPONSIBLE.  Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with PURITY OF HEART.” (7:10-11 MSG)

Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit within me who works to convict me in those times when I stray from Your will.  His conviction can soften my heart, making me pliable, bringing a repentant mindset and a return to seeking Your will above my own.  Daily do whatever YOU know it takes to keep my heart set on You.  Keep making me just like Jesus.  Amen.