2 Timothy 4

May each life I touch grow to love Jesus more.

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“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge:” (v 1 NIV)

“PREACH THE WORD” (v 2 NIV)

“Proclaim the Message with integrity” (MSG).

Thank You for training me in understanding and teaching Your Word.  Keep me grounded in it, regularly, daily in it’s pages, so that it dwells in me richly (Colossians 3:16).  You be the one to formulate the words that proceed from my mouth when I open it in the midst of the opportunities You give to touch lives.

BE PREPARED in season and out of season” (v 2 NIV)

“Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable.  [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome,]…” (v 2 AMP). Cause me to be looking for the opportunities You supply.  Help me not to be so focused on my tasks connected to this world that I miss the tasks You have for me which are linked to eternity.  (“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, … in Christ all will be made alive … thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 15:19-20, 33, 58 NIV]).

CORRECT, REBUKE, & ENCOURAGE — with GREAT PATIENCE and CAREFUL INSTRUCTION (v 2 NIV)

“Challenge, warn, and urge your people.  Don’t ever quit.  Just keep it simple” (v 2 MSG).

When a blacksmith is altering the shape of a piece of metal to make it more useful or for a particular use, he takes it through a process.  The metal is thrust into intense heat in order to soften it, so that the following step is most effective.  Next the smith pounds the heated metal into the shape it’s going to become, changing its appearance and resourcefulness.  Then, it’s doused into water to cool it down again, the forging complete.  Oh, often this process is repeated many times, with perhaps different tools used for the pounding and great care and patience are employed.  All work together to bring the metal into the shape needed to carry out the work for which it’s destined.

Many times, Lord, You’ve held me in Your hands as the blacksmith holds that metal.  Through the correction, rebuke and encouragement You’ve given through Your people, Your Word, and Your Spirit, You’ve been shaping me with Your “great patience and careful instruction.”  You’re forging me so that I can be an effective tool in doing the same in the lives of others.  Keep on with the process, Lord.

“KEEP YOUR HEAD IN ALL SITUATIONS” (v 5 NIV

Father, continue to help me not to react quickly to jarring circumstances.  Bring Your peace upon my heart and mind as You supply understanding, discernment and wisdom in the process of my choosing my actions instead of reacting.  Hold a stalwart guard over my mouth, not letting me flippantly speak, until You’ve had the chance to speak to me first.  You’ve guided me in this direction for quite a while; keep on doing it.  Thank You for the advantages of “keeping my head” when it comes to being alert to temptation, “resistant to pressure, and ever vigilant when facing heavy responsibility” (from the NIV Life Application Study Bible, p. 2204).

“ENDURE HARDSHIP” (v 5 NIV)

“Accept the hard times along with the good” (v 5 MSG).

Here’s Paul at the end of his life — one that had been flooded with MANY “hard times” — encouraging a young servant.  This same Paul is the one who wrote to the Corinthians about the “thorn” You’d given him (2 Cor 12:7-10).  You taught him to be thankful for that “gift,” because through this weakness, Your grace radiated.

DO THE WORK of an evangelist, DISCHARGE ALL THE DUTIES of your ministry” (v 5 NIV)

“Keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant” (v 5 MSG).

When I became Your child, Father God, You commissioned and ordained me for Your ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:11-21).  You have sent me forth with Your (1) Great Commandment and (2) Your Great Commission:

1) “LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND” (Matt 22:37 NIV) – Great Commandment

2) “…GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS…” (Matt 28:19-20) – Great Commission

“The Great Commission encapsulates what we DO while the Great Commandment embodies who we ARE.”  (David Ferguson, The Great Commandment Principle, p. 9)

Help me to love YOU with all of me, so that it’s You loving and serving through me as I engage my energy, gifts, and resources in the ministry You’ve designed for me.  Keep forging me into the likeness of Jesus.  Amen.

2 Timothy 3

May each life I touch grow to love Jesus more.

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“Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble … Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers — why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk!  There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.  Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” (v 12, 14-17 MSG)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (v 16-17 NIV)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

Father, may I never stray into the practice of simply reading Your Word just for the knowledge to be gained.  Nor let me study just so I can prove a point in a discussion.  You have intended that Your Word be more than known, but that it would be lived.

You have said (Eph 2:10) that You’ve created me FOR good works.  You’ve given me a purpose here.  With that purpose, You’ve provided a source of training.  The main reason You’ve given me Your Word is to prepare me, to equip me “thoroughly for every good work” that You’ve “prepared in advance” (Eph 2:10; 2 Timothy 3:17) for me to do.

Thanks for using Your Word too in “showing me truth,” “exposing my rebellion,” “correcting my mistakes,” and “training me to love Your way” (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV).  Continue to equip me daily as You transform me to be just like Jesus.  Amen.

2 Timothy 2

May each life I touch grow to love Jesus more.

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“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (v 1 NIV)

Father, cause my life to be characterized by Your grace.  How grateful I am that You’ve extended this gift to me.  Now, strengthen, equip and guide me in passing it on to others.

“Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.” (v 15 MSG)

Set my sites on excellence for You, knowing that the only way to achieve it, even in the small things, is through Your strength.  In the opportunities You open up for sharing Your Word, guide me in doing so.  Help me to be on-target with what You intended to say and to convey it so simply that even a young child can understand and be changed by it.

“In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets — some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage.  BECOME THE KIND OF CONTAINER GOD CAN USE TO PRESENT ANY AND EVERY KIND OF GIFT TO HIS GUESTS FOR THEIR BLESSING.” (v 21 MSG)

May I be a bowl of fine china at Your table of grace, serving up a delicacy for the souls of each guest who dines.  Purify my heart; make clean my mind; and fashion a genuine and deep love in me for Your people, both the fallen and the forgiven.  As I continue to learn to walk in Your mercy, grace and forgiveness, keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

2 Timothy 1

May each life I touch grow to love Jesus more.

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“…I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you…” (v 6 AMP)

“…I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…” (v 6 NIV)

Father, You have gifted me by Your Spirit for a variety of things.  You’ve worked through many influences to develop skills in me.  You’ve been at work to fashion me into a tool You can use for building up Your kingdom.  Early on, the desire to serve others through these gifts was strong, alive, and active.  The embers are still there, though sometimes in need of stoking, so that there’s a blaze instead of merely a warm glow.  Stir me up, Lord.

“God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”  (v 7 MSG)

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (v 7 NIV)

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (v 7 AMP)

Gather up all these descriptions of what You’ve given to me and shape my understanding and application of Your Word.  Yes, You’ve gifted me.  And yes, in the past We’ve done some exciting things together through those gifts put to use in Your kingdom.  Now, Lord, strip away the “cringing” and “timidity” that can hinder me these days from diving in and letting You fully use me wherever You desire.  Only in You can I be free from fear; so I look to You to cut those chains and free me to more fully serve You.

“We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work … I couldn’t be more sure of my ground — the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what He’s trusted me to do right to the end.” (v 12 MSG)

“…Still I am not ashamed, for I know (perceive, have knowledge of, and am acquainted with) Him whom I have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on), and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day.” (v 12 AMP)

Thank You, Father, for the confidence that knowing You can bring.  Continue to deepen my relationship with You as I fall more in love with Jesus each day.  Work in me the way You long to work.  Shape me into the likeness of Your Son.  Amen.

1 Timothy 6

Father, fill me up with Your truth.

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Thanks for the admonition You convey in this letter written to a young Christian leader by a seasoned follower and disciple-maker.  Help me to apply Your exhortations regarding what to flee and what to pursue as I live out my life in You.

“But you, man of God, FLEE from all this [see vs. 3-10], and PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (v 11 NIV)

FLEE

In the verses prior to this one, You led Paul through a discussion of at least three “things.”  Noted initially are those who teach false doctrines which do not agree with Your Word (v 3).  These same false teachers also carried out lifestyles contrary to the godliness You desire.  Secondly, You use Paul’s words to expose the self-serving motive of seeking godliness as “a means to financial gain” (v 5), or to get rich.  Thirdly, You spell out the dangers of allowing the gathering of wealth to drive oneself in this life.  You led Paul to highlight all these aspects and then said, “flee from all this” (v 11).

PURSUE

Now, since fleeing means to run away from something, there naturally must be something else to run toward.  In this case, You give me an entire list of traits to keep on chasing after, a lifelong pursuit or quest:

(1) RIGHTEOUSNESS — The Amplified Bible states this as “…righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness),…” (v 11 AMP). In his letter to the Romans, You use Paul’s words to help clarify this: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom 3:22 NIV).  Under the Old Testament law, Your followers were declared righteous, like gaining Your stamp of approval, by their obedience.  Yet, because You knew that I’d never be able to be fully obedient to You, out of Your mercy and grace, You sent Your Son to redeem me from my “missing the mark” or sin.  “…where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:20-21 NIV).  YOU declare me righteous by my faith in Your Son.

(2) GODLINESS “…godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike),… “ (v 11 AMP).  Here’s how Chuck Swindoll put this in one of his study guides: “…an authentic, abiding desire to glorify God through self-sacrificing service and humble obedience.”**  Form that in me, Lord.

(3) FAITH — Father, help me to take my hands off the steering wheel and allow You to drive, to allow You to be the door opener, without my trying to pry the doors open or manipulate them to fit my design.  Help me to trust You.

(4) ENDURANCE — This is like perseverance and both mean “to abide under.”  Guide me in moving through life, handling what comes my way with the strength You provide and looking to You to supply stability and balance.

(5) GENTLENESS — Guide me in allowing Your Spirit to keep my strength under control, utilizing my strength as You reveal it’s appropriate to do so.

Run with me, Lord, as I flee what is not of You and pursue all that You lay before me, as You’re at work to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

** from Excellence in Ministry by Charles Swindoll, Insight for Living, 1985.

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Draw my heart toward Yours, Jesus, so that I fall deeper in love with You every moment.

1 Thessalonians 1

Carve the very nature, the very heart of Jesus into me, Lord.

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A FAITH LIVED OUT IS A FAITH SPOKEN ABOUT.

Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was a rather “exciting” one (Acts 17:1-9); not as productive as other places he’d visited; but it sure held a lot of activity.  He spent three days reasoning “with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.”  Some were persuaded to follow, both Jews and non-Jews; yet others stirred up such havoc that Paul and his companions had to secretly slip away.

As Your church in Thessalonica grew, Father, news of their faith was spread far and wide.  Here in this passage, You reveal the joys and results, or fruit, of faithfully making disciples as we go.

JOY FOR THE DISCIPLE-MAKER (v 2-5 NIV)

GRATITUDE: “We always thank God for all of you … “ (v 2 NIV)

Leading others into a closer relationship with You brings along times of sweet fellowship with one another.  Human hearts become acquainted through the bond only You can create, Father.  Our hearts are blessed by one another’s company and well up with gratitude for Your blessings poured out back and forth, from one vessel then another.

REFLECTION: “We continually remember before our God …” (v 3 NIV)

Paul could see (in those You had used him to teach) lives that had become characterized by faith that produced work, love that prompted labor, and hope that inspired endurance, as each one served Your kingdom, anticipating Your return.

AFFIRMATION“… We know… He has chosen you…” (v 4-5 NIV)

Because of the way the Thessalonians received Paul’s message to them, he recognized that God had been preparing them for his visit and had made their hearts open to hear the message.  “It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put His hand on you for something special.” (v 4 MSG)

FRUIT FROM THE DISCIPLE (V 6-10)

IMITATORS“You became imitators of us and of the Lord … “ (v 6 NIV)

I want to see the very footprints You’ve left behind and to step right into each one, Jesus.  Wherever You go, take me with You.  Let me see You in action, and help me to be like You.

GREETERS“You welcomed the message with joy …” (v 6 NIV)

No matter what trials may surround me, may I throw open the door of my heart to welcome You in, so that You can bring whatever message my mind needs to hear.  Your Word keeps my mind focused on Your Son, so that my heart stays in line as well.

MODELS“You became a model to all the believers …” (v 7 NIV)

May my life be one that, when imitated, allows the one following to also imitate YOU.  I want to be just like You, Jesus, when others want to be just like me.

BILLBOARDS“…Your faith in God has become known everywhere …” (v 8 NIV)

May my life echo Your Words, Lord. Clean out the stuff that’s “me” and replace it with what’s “You.”  Shape my faith into the kind that spurs others on when they hear of it.  (Some days, I know I’m far from THAT.  Just keep working on me, Daddy.)

EXAMPLES “You turned to God from idols …” (v 9-10 NIV)

May the things of this world which tempt me to give them allegiance receive none of my attention.  Instead, turn my energy and focus toward the same two aims of the Thessalonians: 1) “to SERVE the living and true God” and 2) “to WAIT for His Son [to return] from heaven.”  Help me to embrace You, Father, and to expectantly await Your Son to come back for me and all Your people.

Thanks for using Paul to relate the aspects of how the Thessalonians set an example of faith in You.  Assist me in imitating them, as they imitated Paul, who imitated You.  Make me just like Jesus.  Amen.