Colossians 2:13-19

Father, make me more like Jesus.

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Just look, Father!  There are glimpses into who You are and what You do right here in these few verses, like snapshots of Your character:

“GOD MADE ME ALIVE WITH CHRIST”  (v 13 NIV)

Lord, I remember a swimming pool You allowed me to enjoy several years ago.  There was a time when the pool became full of algae and other things.  Some of us swam in it once when it was like that.  (I still remember putting my foot into a big glob of algae on the wall in the deep end — AAAK!)  Eventually it had to be drained and the surfaces scraped clean.  Then, new, clean water could be put back into it.  After the whole task was done, we could swim without concern in the fresh water.  The pool had been made alive again with our splashing, diving, swimming and playing.

When I was dead in my sins and swimming in my sinful nature, You chose to clean me up, to remove the scum in me and to fill me up with Your Son, Jesus!  Thanks so much for life in Him!!

“HE FORGAVE ME ALL MY SINS” (v 13 NIV)

Much like an accused person standing before a judge in a courtroom, hearing the charges against her being read, there was a list of charges against me.  Over and over I had fallen short of Your design for me, of Your will for me.  You took that list of charges, Lord, and tattooed them on the body of You Son.  Then, You allowed that list to be nailed to the cross as Jesus was crucified.  The payment I owed for those charges against me was my own death; but when my “eyes” look to Jesus on the cross, the only message visible is “PAID IN FULL.”  And from His lips, He spoke to You about me:  “Father, forgive them…”

Thank You for forgiving ALL my sins.  Lord, instill in me an ever-growing desire to refuse to play with sin.  Make it more important to me to be holy than to be “comfy,” to be blameless than to be accepted, to have Your will as my aim when I go out and about instead of just fun and good times.  You have said, “Be holy as You are holy.”  And You say that You are the One who makes me holy, that You work all things for my good, that You’ve come to give me life abundantly.  So, if I choose to pursue good times here on my own, I miss out on the best times that sticking close to You can bring.  Give me a double-order of the kind of true fun there is in living my life with You making the plans and guiding my choices.

“HAVING DISARMED THE POWERS AND AUTHORITIES”  (v 15 NIV)

There is NONE like You, Father.  You are all-powerful, majestic, glorious, the great God and ruler of all creation.  AND YOU are my Daddy!  That’s SO cool!!

Nothing can harm me; nothing can separate me from Your love for me.  The ruler of this world has no weapon that can take me out because You are my shield and Fortress.  Sin and death were his biggest guns; yet You’ve rendered them inoperable.  Thanks for allowing me to share in Your victory.

“REALITY … IS FOUND IN CHRIST”  (v 17 NIV)

All other ways of living are like false images projected into a room, seeming real, but are actually hollow and fabricated.  True life, real life, reality is found ONLY as I choose to live in Christ, to follow Your will, Lord.  Anything else is just a game.  Thank You for the truth of Your Word and for the realness of Your presence with me when I choose to notice You and to commune with You throughout a day.

“AS GOD CAUSES IT TO GROW”  (v 19 NIV)

Thank You, Father, for being the One who brings growth.  You cause me to grow.  You cause others to grow.  We are not responsible for, nor able to, produce growth in one another.  That’s YOUR role.  You simply call us to spur one another on, to encourage one another, to teach and admonish one another, so that we are a crop that’s weeded, watered, and fertilized, ready for the growth You’ll bring and the harvest You and we will enjoy.

Thank You, Father, for letting me see You, to know You. Thanks…
…for the life You give me,
…for the forgiveness You’ve given me,
…for the confidence that comes from knowing You are in control,
…for the reality of You–You’re real, You’re true and You’ll never fail me,
…for the growth You bring as You make me just like Jesus! Amen.

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Ephesians 2:1-10

Jesus, be the Lord over ALL my life.
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You have seen who I was, Father, and You didn’t leave me alone.

  • I WAS dead in my sins and disobedience (v 1). 
  • I USED TO live in those sins, USED TO follow “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (v 2). 
  • I LIVED among those who are disobedient, “gratifying the cravings of my sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (v 3). 
  • I WAS by nature an object of Your wrath.

Because of YOUR GREAT LOVE for me, and because You are rich in mercy,
YOU MADE ME ALIVE WITH CHRIST!
…even when I was dead in my sin–it’s by Your grace that I’ve been saved.
YOU RAISED ME UP WITH CHRIST!
YOU SEATED ME WITH CHRIST in the heavenly realms!
SO THAT — “in the coming ages You might show the incomparable riches of Your grace, expressed in Your kindness to me in Christ Jesus” for it’s by grace that I’m saved, through faith.

I am Your workmanship … molded by Your hands, crafted by Your fingers, loved by Your heart … filled with Who You are. You have prepared me to do good works in Your kingdom here. You prepare me for what You have prepared for me. May I serve You with loyalty and fervor as You keep making me just like Jesus. Amen.

2 Corinthians 5

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

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“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down–when we die and leave these bodies–we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself and not by human hands … We are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.  So our aim is to please Him always, … For we must all stand before Christ to be judged.  We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies.  It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard to persuade others…” (5:1, 8-11 NLT)

Being human can sometimes be frustrating, Father, especially when “our aim is to please [You] always” (v 9).  My intentions, my passion, my focus can be intensely set on You and I can be moving in the direction of Your will, and then some lie, ploy, or subtle attack by the enemy of my soul can work its way into me.  There are times, before I’ve even seen it lurking about, that the tangling vines of sin get such a grip on me.  Papa! Only YOU by Your grace can free me from its clutches!  Every time I cry out to You and You free me from such sin, I am reminded of the price You paid so that I could know that freedom … so that I could know You personally … so that I’d tell others about You.

Make me aware of the lives touching mine who need to hear of this freedom You offer them as well.  Help me to see others through Your eyes.  Move me to step toward them with Your Message of new and eternal life.

“Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us.  Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live.  He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live to please themselves.  Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them … All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to Himself through what Christ did … For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (5:14-15, 18, 21 NLT)

Thank You for offering Your Son in my place, so that You and I, Father, could be reconciled.  My sin sent Jesus to the cross.  Your love kept Jesus on the cross.  May that same love move me daily to carry the Message of the cross to those who need to hear it the most and to those who think they need it the least.  Use me as You will, Father, and keep on making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

2 Corinthians 4

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

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“…since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” (4:1 NIV)

“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times.” (4:1 MSG)

Wherever You place me, each time You place me into some sort of ministry role — whether it’s interpersonal, vocational, short term, long term — the main point is that it’s YOU who supplies the role and it’s YOU alone who can sustain me in that role until You’re done molding and shaping me through each season of service.

“But this precious treasure — this light and power that now shine within us — is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies.  So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.” (4:7 NLT)

All that I am comes solely from You, Father.  You are my Maker.  My weak body is not a sign that You made a mistake; rather, because there are cracks in this jar of clay, Your light within me can shine through.  Even light poking through cracks can illuminate a dark room … Just as Your light in me can help others I encounter to see You more clearly, and can bring understanding of You and Your longing for them to know You intimately.  Here I am, Lord; use me as Your vessel.

“So we’re not giving up.  How could we!  Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace.  These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.  There’s far more here than meets the eye.  The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.  But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (4:16-18 MSG)

Thank You for unfolding Your grace before me, toward me, around me, and in me EVERY day.  How amazing to consider what You have in store for me, Father.  Certainly, what You have is far greater than anything I could imagine.  Just the thought of getting to be with You is a hope that spurs me onward.  Keep on molding me.  “Take my heart and form it.  Take my mind, transform it.  Take my will, conform it to Yours, to Yours, Oh Lord.” (from “Holiness” by Vineyard Singers on More Love, More Power)  Whatever it takes, Lord, make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15:12-58

Yes, Lord! My life is in YOUR hands.
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“…Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,…in Christ all will be made alive …
When you sow, you don’t plant the body that will be, but just a seed,…
But God gives it a body AS HE HAS DETERMINED, and to each kind of seed He gives its own body…
so it will be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised IMPERISHABLE;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in GLORY;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in POWER;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (15:20, 22, 37-38, 42-44 NIV)

What a wondrous Day that will be, Father, when we all get to see YOU face to face!  How fantastic to think that even the very best that we’ve known here in this life can’t compare to that which You have awaiting us in our life after this life on earth!

This body I have now will one day die; and You’ll exchange it for one that can never die.

This body has been enslaved and dishonored by sin; but the new one You have for me will be gloriously unbound and free.

This body is frail; but that new one will be a powerful reflection of You.

This body is a natural, human address, a temporary dwelling for who I truly am in You; yet one day I’ll reside in a spiritual body just like Jesus’  (Php. 3:20-21)

Thank You for making my resurrection possible through Your Son’s death, burial and resurrection, as He conquered the “last enemy” (15:26 NIV), death, so that I might know new, abundant, and eternal life with YOU!  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Yes, Lord! My life is in YOUR hands.

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“…Christ DIED for our sins according to the Scriptures,…
He was BURIED…
He was RAISED on the third day according to the Scriptures,…
He APPEARED to [several followers].” (v 3-8 NIV)

Thank You, Father, for conveying this message of hope (assurance) and mercy and freedom.  This path Jesus took was His path of victory over sin and death, as He won that battle for me!  Thank You so much, Jesus!

  • Your death stripped away my sin.
  • Your burial put aside my old self.
  • Your resurrection birthed my new self.
  • Your appearing modeled the witnessing You call me to.
  • Your ascension sets the stage for Your return to take me Home.

“…by the grace of God I am what I am…yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (v 10 NIV)

Thank You for Your grace toward me, Father.  Were it not for grace, I shudder to think of where or what I’d be.

You saw me before I was even born, and by Your grace, You chose then to love me.

You saw me in my sin, and by Your grace, You chose to forgive me.

You see me in my frail humanity, and by Your grace, You choose to transform me.

It’s by Your grace alone, Lord, that I am who I am, and that I am becoming who I will be, as You keep making me just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 7 (Part 1)

Yes, Lord! My life is in YOUR hands.

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Excerpts from 1 Cor. 7 in The Message:

“Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me–a simpler life in many ways!  But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is.  God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.

“I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me.  But if they can’t manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married.  The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single.

“…don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else.  Where you are right now is God’s place for you.  Live and obey and love and believe right there.  God, not your marital status, defines your life….

The really important thing is obeying God’s call, following His commands….Because of the current pressures on us from all sides, I think it would probably be best to stay just as you are.  Are you married?  Stay married.  Are you unmarried?  Don’t get married.  But there’s certainly no sin in getting married….All I am saying is that when you marry, you take on additional stress in an already stressful time, and I want to spare you if possible.

“I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence.  There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily.  Keep it simple–in marriage, grief, joy, whatever.  Even in ordinary things–your daily routines of shopping, and so on.  Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you.  This world as you see it is on its way out.

“I want you to live as free of complications as possible.  When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master.  Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention.  The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God….All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.…Marriage is spiritually and morally right and not inferior to singleness in any way, although as I indicated earlier, because of the times we live in, I do have pastoral reasons for encouraging singleness.”

Father, may my heart and mind be wholly devoted to You above all else, above all other relationships in my life.  May YOU be at the center of those relationships, so that each one may glorify You!  Amen.