3 John

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible…helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God Himself! …In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.” (:5,6,8 MSG)

HOSPITALITY–MAKING TRUTH VISIBLE

Father, so many times You have allowed me to see the Truth in this manner.  Ever since those weekends during college, when You allowed me to travel for the college, You’ve been using people to show me hospitality.  In doing so, You’ve allowed me glimpses into who You are and what You’re doing in Your creation and among Your people.

HOSPITALITY–WELCOMING GOD HIMSELF

When You provide opportunities for me to extend hospitality, whether by using the car, the home, or any other things You’ve supplied, You allow my life to be blessed by encountering the “Jesus” in yet another person.  Keep my eyes and ears open and aware of these opportunities, and I trust You to provide whatever is needed to meet a need.

HOSPITALITY–PARTNERING WITH OTHERS

This part is so very true.  How many times have You allowed me to visit in a home and used me or the hosts or both to advance Your kingdom in some way?!  Or, when You’ve brought people into my home, You’ve connected lives with one another, spurred on Your servants, given a period of rest to Your workers, etc.  Thank You for the lives You’ve intersected with mine.

May my heart and home and life be ever open to sharing the kind of hospitality that reveals You, welcomes You, and shares You.  Keep on shaping me to be just like Jesus as we make Your Truth visible together.  Amen.

2 John

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

GRACE, MERCY and PEACE from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love…love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you WALK IN LOVE.” (2 John :3)

3 gifts given to me so that I might give the world one.

GRACE

When You look at me, a sinner who’s not always followed Your commands, You, Lord, chose to have an attitude of grace toward me.  When I go my own way, rebelling against what You say is best for me, You choose to extend Your grace toward me.  Though my ways are unfavorable to You, You choose to freely bestow Your favor on me.  You give me what I don’t even deserve.

MERCY

You see and know my sinful self, and even though I ought to die for my sin, You choose NOT to give me what I deserve.  You have created me to be like Your Son, but the sin in this broken world is a continual obstacle for me, a constant temptation.  You see me in my distress between the natural and the supernatural, and You choose an attitude of mercy toward me.

PEACE

When You became a part of my life, You acquainted me with Your peace.  Your peace takes root and produces a plant which bears the fruit of reconciliation with You, in spite of my sin …the fruit of harmony with others, as You help us to get along …and the fruit of contentment, through experiencing Your ability to handle any need or concern I have ever or will ever face in this life.

Grace must go before mercy, for it’s the forgiven who may be blessed.  You grant favor and withhold judgment.  You give pardon and forego sentencing.  Mercy is the act of You alone, Lord.  Peace is the experience that results in my heart as I encounter You.

You reveal these gifts to me through Truth — Your Word, Your Son, Jesus.  When I follow Your truth, I can know that these gifts are mine–not just a wish or prayer of hope …but having assurance that You’ve freely given them all to me.

A gift can be given, holding all its blessing and promise inside; yet, an unopened gift, never touches the recipient in the way intended by the giver.  Father, thank You for Your grace, Your mercy, and Your peace.  As I open these gifts and integrate them into my life, help me to gift others as You have commanded me: to love them.  Help me to wear Your grace, mercy and peace like garments while walking throughout each day in an attitude of love toward others . . . as You continue to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 John 5

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in His presence, freely asking according to His will, sure that He’s listening. And if we’re confident that He’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.” (5:13-15 MSG)

Lord Jesus, You died for me on that cross.  You rose from that tomb with me on Your mind.  You saw me even before I was born and You desire for me to be with You forever.

I believe in You, that You are God’s Son.  I am confident that I will be with You eternally.  Thank You for the freedom to dance into Your presence, to be alone with You, and to ask You for anything.

Here’s what I ask, Lord.  Pour Your grace over me.  Let it flow.  Keep pouring and pouring and pouring.  Put it in me, on me, around me and, mostly, send Your grace out through me to others as You keep working to make me just like Jesus.  Amen.NeverForsaken

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Man is born broken.  He lives by mending.  The grace of God is the glue.”  — Eugene O’Neill

1 John 4

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TRUTH & LOVE
Jesus is Truth     God is Love
(John 14:6)          (1 John 4:16)

“This is how God showed His love for us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” (4:9 MSG)

Love sent Truth to me.

“Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God.” (4:15 MSG)

Truth takes me to Love.

“…God…loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God…” (4:10 MSG)

Love can truly live in me.

“…If we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and His love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” (4:12 MSG)

The more I let Your truth become a part of my life through obedience to You, Lord, will Your love then become more a part of my life too?  Take my mind and transform it so that Your will becomes my own.  Weed the garden of my heart, pulling out the thorns of pride, jealousy, bitterness, etc., and allow Your love to flourish, grow and bear fruit from within me.  Keep working on me until I love just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 John 3:11-24

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You’ve been saying to Your people for a long time that You value the obedience to that command (“love one another”) just after the one to “Love the Lord Your God with all Your heart, soul, mind and strength.”  Here in this passage You used John’s pen to show this phrase “love one another” conveyed, reflected, modeled, described and commanded.

CONVEYED

From the very beginning, Your Word says, You’ve been telling us to love one another.  You use an example from all the way back to just after You created the first family, an example of how You don’t want us to interact.  The very first “disease” which hindered one person from loving another was envy or jealousy.  Father, guard my heart from this disease.  Where there are already such “cells” growing, come in with Your Spirit and eradicate them.

REFLECTED

When I love another person, my actions reflect what You’ve done in my heart.  Before I belonged to You, my destiny was death, or eternal separation from You.  But in choosing to accept Your gift of salvation, I stepped out of the line headed toward destruction and into the line on the path to life eternally with You.

MODELED

Plain and simple: You, Jesus, chose to sacrifice Your life for me, in my place, because You love me.  Because I choose to follow You, this is the example You desire for me to follow in my own life.  You’ve called me to lay aside my own agenda, desires, wants, in order to serve others.

DESCRIBED

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.  This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.” (3:18-19 MSG) Imagining, planning and discussing ways to love others isn’t loving them.  It’s in the encountering of people, the discovering of needs, and the doing of something to meet those needs that I truly love another person.

COMMANDED

You’ve left us a twofold command: To BELIEVE and to LOVE.  Believing in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ makes me part of Your family and allows Your Spirit to begin transforming me to be like Your Son.  Loving others takes a choice on my part in which I allow the love You’ve shown to me to be manifested in my actions toward others.

Father, help me to be obedient to You by loving others genuinely and sacrificially just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 John 3:4-11

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“When you have a relationship in need of repair, the first key to improvement is to examine your own heart. Look at your own heart; remember who you are and who God called you to be. Did the Father call you to be angry? to be bitter? Or did He call you to be loving and forgiving?” — Max Lucado perpetual calendar for 7/25/99

“Patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other the way Christ Jesus wants.” (Rom 15:5)

“…No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin…it’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin…Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the devil’s children: The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God, nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister. A simple test. For this is the original message we heard: we should love each other.” (3:6, 9-11 MSG)

When I’ve worked with the public in various settings, You’ve allowed me to observe many kinds of people, Lord.  As I read this portion of Your Word, a scene keeps coming to mind — not a particular one, but the kind I’ve seen repeatedly.  There’s a child going wild on a sales floor as a mother looks on.  You can see it in her face for a moment, “Is THAT really MY kid?  I KNOW I didn’t raise her to be that way.”  But the question doesn’t remain, for the mother loves that child, even when she disobeys.  She reaffirms to herself, “Yes, this is MY child.  And I’ll continue to love her no matter what.”

Father, too often that scene plays out before You when it comes to my life as Your child.  I act and react to life in ways that don’t resemble “the God-begotten” birthright I received when I surrendered my will to Yours.  That “simple test” mentioned in this passage is one that I can often fail, simply because I allow the pressures of this life to turn my focus self-ward instead of others-ward.  I become a naval-gazer, wrapped up in having to get done what I have to get done and sometimes even taking all others’ actions toward me in an overly sensitive way.

. . . yet He chooses not to let you stay that way.  You can trust His work of transforming you to be just like Jesus.

. . . yet He chooses not to let you stay that way. You can trust His work of transforming you to be just like Jesus.

You have called me to follow You.  You have walked a path of love and forgiveness.  You call me to walk the same.  You promise to walk that road with me.  You offer Your hand of strength as I take each step along the way.

I’ll take Your hand, Daddy.  It’s got to be You with me and the Jesus in me that 1) changes me from being self-seeking to self-sacrificing, that 2) transforms me from whining to knowing I’m loved deeply, and 3) believing You’ve reached out to me genuinely to form me into one who loves eagerly and reaches out sincerely.  Oh! I remember being that kind of person in the past, but many changes, many of life’s encounters have been allowed by me to alter me.  I’m thankful, Papa, that you accept me as I am AND that You refuse to let me stay that way.  I need You to be the changer of me…transform me daily until I am just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 John 3:1-3

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! …Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  (3:1-2 NIV)

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are! …and that’s only the beginning. [We can’t even imagine what we’ll be like when Christ returns (NLT)]. What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see Him—and in seeing Him, become like Him.” (3:1-2 MSG)

“See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! … Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.”  (3:1-2 AMP)

Father, thank You for counting me as Your child!  Thank You for loving me like no other ever could, ever would, ever has, ever will!

When are You coming back, Lord?  Oh, I don’t ask that expecting a date and time.  Instead, I just mean to convey a bit of how anxious I am to see You, to be with You, to be changed to be like You.  Amen.

1 John 2:18-29

“Stay with what you heard from the beginning….Let it sink into your life…If [it] lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father.  Live deeply in what you were taught…Stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ.”  (1:24-25, 27 MSG)

“LIVE DEEPLY”

When Eugene Peterson wrote his fresh paraphrase of this passage in The Message, he used these two words—“live deeply” —where other versions (actual translations) used “remain faithful” (v 24 NLT) & “continue to live in” (v 27 NLT), “remains in” (v 24 NIV), “keep thinking about,” (v 24 CEV), “stay one in your heart with” (v 27 CEV), “continue to follow … dwells & remains in” (v 24, 27 NKJV), “keep in your hearts…” (v 24 AMP), “abide in (live in, never depart from) … (being rooted in … knit to … )” (v 27 AMP) and “lives in you” (v 24 GW).  The concept of “living deeply” seems to sum up the “continually dwelling” or “remaining faithful” that’s conveyed by these others.

The message of the cross, the good news that Your Son died for me, Lord, these things I’ve “heard from the beginning”  of my Sunday School years.  When I keep thinking about and keep in my heart the message conveyed: “Jesus loves me this I know…,” I can let that childhood song sink into my life.

Jesus knows me, this I love

Jesus knows me, this I love

You taught me as a child of Your love for me.  As a preteen, You called to me to become YOUR child.  The message came through in yet another song at three different times of pivotal spiritual decisions.  “The Savior is waiting to enter your heart… “ [(C) 1958 by Ralph Carmichael] is what was sung the day You washed me clean of my sins.  It’s what was sung at church camp the night I admitted I’d let my devotion wane, but wanted to reassert my deep-down intention to follow You.  That’s the song we sang the night, (at camp again, a year later), when I stood before You and my peers to make You a promise: to be involved in full-time Christian service.  You’ve shaped that to be a simple career goal of being faithful to You WHEREVER You lead me.

In college, You drew me deeper.  You heard my prayer in which I sought to understand You’re Word better.  You opened “my eyes to see wonderful things in Your law” (Psalm 119:18 NIV). You opened my heart toward a quest to clarify my motives for following You.  Just about that time, You brought Margaret Becker’s music into my world.  Her lyrics allowed my heart and mind to express themselves: “Way beyond the things I know I will receive, I want my motivation for loving You to be just for the love, for the love of You, not for what it brings.  For the love, for the love of You, let me do all things.  Not for what You’ll do, but just for the love of You …” [(c) 1986 “For the Love of You” on Never for Nothing]

I’d fall down; I’d get up.  I’d fall down; I’d get up…and every time Your love enveloped me.  In my early adult years out on my own, You taught me of Your wonderful grace.  You met me at my lowest, filled me with Your best, to take me to Your highest.  As my heart sang out, “Look me in the eye, Tell me if You see traces of Yourself growing here in me.  Tell me if You find Your heart in mine.  I pray You’ll see Your light when you look me in the eye … “ [(c) 1991 “Look Me in the Eye” by Margaret Becker on Simple House – lyrics].

More of life happened, and You were there to help me “live deeply” in You.  In the challenging times, You vividly reminded me, “Jesus will still be there…He’ll still be loving You…” [(c) “Jesus Will Still Be There” by Point of Grace – lyrics].  Then, You beckoned me toward yet another doorway.  I stepped through it, motivated to be like the disciples who laid down their nets and some their lives … With eyes set on You, I resolved to go “down any road at any cost / Wherever You lead [I] will follow / Because [I] know that You’ve called [me] / To take up [my] cross / Down any road at any cost…” [(c) 1996 “Any Road, Any Cost” by Point of Grace – lyrics].

Most recently, as I continue to follow You, to live deeply in You, You’ve been vividly teaching me two truths: “Lord, You are my Shepherd and I shall not want anymore…” [(c) “Psalm Twenty-three” by Kathy Troccoli – lyrics] AND “My life is in Your hands.  My heart is in Your keeping.  I’m never without hope, not when my future is with You.” [(c)1993 “My Life Is in Your Hands” by Kathy Troccoli – lyrics].  The Lord of all the universe is the One who shepherds me.  You care for me, guide me, protect me and bless me.  You carry me in Your arms, near to Your heart.  “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6 NIV)

Father, may I ever “live deeply” in You, grounded in Your Word, enveloped by You alone.  Thank You for the ways in which You keep me focused on You — even when my eyes wander.  Thanks for loving me and for continuing to shape me to be just like Jesus.  Amen.

 

1 John 1:5-2:6

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
claim – “to assert in the face of possible contradiction; maintain” (Webster); “contend, allege, assert; syn. announce” (Roget’s)

As John’s letter continues to unfold, he makes reference to a variety of claims that believers are often heard making, Lord. He points out how essential to one’s integrity it is to follow through on those claims that are within His will and to forego the ones which stem from our own foolish pride… They fall generally in these areas…
IF WE * YET WE * THEN WE/HE
_____________
• “IF WE claim to have fellowship with Him” — We go around saying we know the Lord, even that we know You intimately
• “YET [WE] walk in the darkness” — Our lives tell a different story than our lips
• “[THEN] WE lie and do not live by the truth” (v 6 NIV) — Our integrity is full of holes.
______________
• “IF WE walk in the light, as He is in the light” — Our lives are in full-view of others; walking without shame, without trying to hide or cover up anything.
• “[THEN] WE have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin” (v 7 NIV) — Having no hidden sin allows for openness with one another, frees us to accept others and accept the acceptance of others. No sin can be hidden from You, Lord, anyway. When I admit my sins, being open with You (“in the light”), You cleanse, purify me through and through.
_____________
• “IF WE claim to be without sin,” — If this were my claim, it would be wise for me to take a look at my hands and feet to see if there are any nail scars there–especially since there’s only been one person in history who could truly make THAT claim.
• “[THEN] WE deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (v 8 NIV) — It would be like a child standing near a demolished birthday cake that had been hidden away for her little sister’s celebration … The child’s face, hands, even clothing bear icing and cake residue. However, when asked, “Did you eat that cake?” the child proudly denies having anything to do with such an idea or action. Now, “paleeese” — that response is about as silly as any of us claiming to have no sin.
____________
• “IF WE confess our sins,” — When I admit to You that my actions, even thoughts that are sin, really ARE sin, that’s a true confession. When I look You in the eye, Papa, swallowing any shred of pride, and say, “Yes, You’re right. I’ve sinned,” I’ve taken the first step … then, it’s Your turn.
• “[YET] HE is faithful and just …” — I can count on You to be Your loyal, constant, trustworthy self, who fairly judges me in all matters and loves me throughout the entire process.
[THEN HE] will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (v 9 NIV) — Thank You for the clean slate You bring … for nailing to the cross the charges that were against me. Thank You for cleansing my being from all that’s counterfeit and not of You .. for replacing the old mess with Your grace and goodness.
______________
• “IF WE claim to be without sin,” — After seeing the freedom from sin You offer (in v 9), here again the heart can remain too proud to admit its need for You as Savior.
• “[THEN] WE make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives.” (v 10 NIV) — All I can picture with this scene is a person yelling at You, claiming at the top of his lungs that he’s not doing ANYthing wrong. The weather is dark, dismal, rainy while the man has been walking along a meagerly traveled city street. After flailing his fist into the air, as if to challenge You to prove him wrong, he stands alone in the rain on the corner near a street lamp. He’s left alone with only his thoughts and the dampened noise of the street as the rain continues to drizzle upon him.

Since Your Word is truth and the Word is Jesus, then Jesus is truth (John 14:6). Lord, let me never get to the point at which Your Word has no place in my life. That would mean that Jesus would have no place. But I want You to have ANY place in my life You desire.
__________
“WHOEVER claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (2:6 NIV)
“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.” (2:6 NLT)
“Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.” (2:6 MSG)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

Lord, I’m Yours. Help me to live like it, as You continue to make me just like Jesus. Amen.

1 John 1:1-4

For the joy of knowing and experiencing You, thank You, Papa God!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have SEEN with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have TOUCHED—this we proclaim concerning the word of life.” (v 1 NIV)

Is it any wonder that, You the One who created me, would employ all my senses in order to convey Your most important message to me?  Your Word, Father, is alive in and around me.  Even though I didn’t personally walk alongside Jesus the way that John did, I can still experience contact with Your Word (Jesus — see John 1:1).

HEARD

Thank You for the many times throughout my life that I’ve been able to listen to Your Word being read and proclaimed.  Thank You for the gift of hearing. Thank You for this country and freedom of speech.  Thank You for voices.  Thank You for the sound of Your Word.

SEEN

Thank You for putting Your Word in print and carrying it throughout the centuries.  Thanks for the ability to read it.  Thanks for helping me to understand it more and more each time I read it.

TOUCHED

Although Your Word, Jesus, isn’t here personally in physical form anymore, in so many ways Your Word can still be touched.  You said Yourself that when I do something for “the least of these” (Matthew 25), for someone here, that I’m doing it for You.  So, when I touch another person You’ve created, I’m touching You.  You give me opportunities every day to touch You in some way — and to be touched by You — a little “Jesus in skin.”

Another way You touch me is through Your Spirit connecting with my Spirit — the real essence of who I am.  When We meet to commune together — I listen, You listen, we simply enjoy one another’s company.  Those are definitely times when I’m touching You.  It’s not with my hands, but with my very being.

Thank You, Father, for the joy of knowing and experiencing You!  Thanks for being such a personal and intimate God!  Thanks for touching all of me with all of You as You make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 Peter 5

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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

AWARE — “Keep a cool head. Stay alert…” (v 8 MSG)

Life can move slowly when I’m anticipating something wonderful, or life can become such a flurry of “to-do’s!”  In the midst of the changing pace of life, my emotional altimeter can register me as cruising along at heights that make me a peer to an eagle, or having me look up to see the underside of a slug.  My health can be waning or wondrous; my finances can be managed or meager.  Life is just life in this human body.

Then … there’s my faith — the part of me that’s not dependent on my humanity.  Rather, my faith is an outgrowth of my spirit as it moves and breathes in rhythm with Your Spirit.  It’s this essential link to You that carries me through whatever life in this body brings.  It’s my faith in You, Father, that allows me to be aware of the enemy’s schemes.  The more I stay in Your Word, the closer I stay to Your side, the better I keep my eyes on You; then my faith just knows when it’s not YOUR voice speaking to me.  You can take care of whatever tricks the enemy tries, and You’ll always keep me safe.

ALERT — “Keep your guard up… (v 8 MSG)

My faith isn’t an afghan I pull over myself, curl up in and then sit on the couch, watching life go by.  You’ve instilled this belief, this trust in You, inside of me so that I can be active in this world, introducing and drawing others to You.  While I’m serving You, wherever I am, through whatever means, You call me to be alert to the one who’s been messing with Your plan since creation.  You call me to keep my guard up, so that I’m not tempted to listen to the enemy instead of YOU.  Thank You for giving me a “shield of faith” as protection for my heart and mind, body and soul, while I’m serving You in this world.  (Eph 6:16)

(Could You just see it, Lord, if this were an “afghan of faith?”  I’d get up, wrap myself in it, have to keep pulling it up around me as I went through the day … Oh, I’d be protected from the cold perhaps … but “flaming arrows from the evil one” (Eph 6:16) would toast that “protective” wrap in no time!  I’m just glad that it’s YOU who’s chosen the metaphors when it comes to helping me follow You!)

ABIDING — “Keep a firm grip on the faith.” (v 9 MSG)

“In His kindness God called you to His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ.  After you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” (5:10 NLT)

“…and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (5:10 NIV)

It’s the tough stuff of life that challenges my faith, that causes the question to arise within, “Give up or go on?”  Still, it’s that same tough stuff that grows my faith, that moves the affirmation to spring forth, “I’m Yours, Lord.  Let’s do it!”

FAITH — it’s what You’ve given me, Lord, to keep me AWARE, ALERT and ABIDING.  No wonder You describe this as a “shield of faith” (Eph 6:16).  As I carry it, I can stay aware of what transpires around me.  I can be alert and ready to use it for protection from the enemy’s attacks upon my mind and heart.  And by holding it in front of me, I can press forward through ANYthing as I follow You!

Thank You for this gift of faith in You.  I trust Your skillful hands, Father, as You continue to fashion my life to be just like Jesus.  Amen.

1 Peter 4:12-19

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner… So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He’ll keep on doing it.” (v 12, 13, 19 MSG)

“…Keep on doing what is right, and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you.” (v 19 NLT)

Father, thank You that all the “todays” I will ever face are days that You’ve already seen, known, and have prepared what I’ll need to make it through each one.  Thank You for Your refining process.  The hotter the fire, the purer the silver becomes.  The purer the silver, the better the surface shines.  It’s that shiny part that is also the most reflective.  May my life reflect the YOU in me.  May I stand before others as a mirror into which You peer and are seen by them from their vantage point.  It’s not the “I,” but the YOU in me that makes all the difference in each day as it unfolds before me, and as my life encounters the lives of others along my path.

Thank You that I can continually count on Your being with me, working in me and through me as You make me just like Jesus!  Amen.

1 Peter 4:1-11

“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like Him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.” (v 1-2 MSG)

“…For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning, and you won’t spend the rest of your life chasing after evil desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” (v 1-2 NLT)

Father, insert Your skillful hand into the wiring of my mind.  Disconnect, reconnect, reroute, rewire,–do whatever it takes to make my thinking processes to be like Jesus.  Remove what’s necessary so that there’s room to insert the essentials of the mind of Christ and the attitude of His heart, in order that I imitate (as far as is humanly possible in this life) the actions of His life among us.  Release me from the grip of my own desires and will, so that I can be free to do what YOU want.

“God has given gifts to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts, manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you. Are you called to be a speaker? Then speak as though God Himself were speaking through you. Are you called to help others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then God will be given glory in everything through Jesus Christ. All glory and power belong to Him forever and ever. Amen.” (v 10-11 NLT)

There are many gifts You’ve given me, Lord.  Direct me in using them to their fullest, so that Your kingdom may grow, so that lives may be moved closer to You, and so that YOU may be glorified.  Often I employ the various gifts You’ve recreated in me by Your Spirit or the talents You knit into my being as You created me.  Yet, You’ve when you prompt me with the simple message “use your gifts.”  Show me what You mean, Daddy.  Guide my hands, my feet, my words,…

Where there are risks to take and challenges to meet, let’s go!  Let’s do them together and watch the glory rise up to You.  Let’s catch glimpses of the hearts that will be drawn to You, drawn closer to Your side or into a relationship with You for the very first time.  Let’s do it, Lord.  Here’s my hand … I’ll walk with You as You make me just like Jesus, and use me to touch this world.  Amen.

1 Peter 3:8-22

In this passage, You map out how You desire me to live within the Body of Christ, within the world, and within the heart. (See v. 1-7 for “within the home” also.)

WITHIN THE BODY (v 8-12)
~Live in harmony with one another (v 8 NIV); be agreeable (MSG)
~Be sympathetic
~Love as brothers (NIV); be loving (MSG)
~Be compassionate
~Be humble
~No retaliation (MSG)
~“BLESS — that’s your job, to bless
~“Say nothing evil or hurtful
~“Snub evil and cultivate good
~“Run after peace for all you’re worth” (MSG)
‘Sounds like a father gathering all his kids and saying, “Just get along. Do whatever it takes to get along with one another and to genuinely love one another.”

Create in me, Daddy, an attitude toward my spiritual siblings that reflects Your heart. Help me to love no matter what occurs, no matter how I’m treated, no matter who it is. That kind of stuff comes ONLY as I daily surrender my will to Yours. So, here I am again, waving a white flag from my heart and offering to You the throne of my heart.

WITHIN THE WORLD
“…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 you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (v 15-16 NIV)

“Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that THEY’RE the ones who need a bath.” (v 15-16 MSG)

There’s a friend of mine who often says, “Your walk talks and your talk talks; but does your walk talk what your talk talks?” Setting You, Jesus, apart as Lord in my life doesn’t begin with my “talk.” It begins in my heart and mind, a conscious act of my will being brought under submission to Your will. That submission then affects my talk and my walk, so that what is both heard and seen when others observe my life shows up in alignment with Your Word and Your ways.

Prepare me for those encounters in which someone actually may ask me why I’m living the way I am or why I have the hope or assurance I have in You. Make that visible in my life and make me ready.

WITHIN THE HEART
“Christ also suffered when He died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners that He might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit.
“…God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only 8 people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. And this is a picture of baptism, which now saves you by the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Baptism is not a removal of dirt from your body; it is an appeal to God from a clean conscience.” (v 18-21 NLT)

How fantastic to think that Your awesome power that raised Your Son from the dead can take a simple element like water and use it as a key ingredient in the process You employ for saving our souls! When I stepped into the baptismal waters (well over three decades ago!) I didn’t take a bar of soap with me, nor was there a scrub brush. It wasn’t about washing away dirt from my skin. Rather, YOU used Your Holy Spirit brand soap to clean up my heart, leaving the old scum and muck behind in the water. You raised me up and out to walk in a new way, with a new set of clothes. Thanks for the wardrobe You provide as I dress for each day, anticipating Your work in me to make me just like Jesus. Amen.

1 Peter 2:13-25

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, THE KIND OF LIFE CHRISTI LIVED.
HE SUFFERED EVERYTHING THAT CAME HIS WAY so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step by step…
HE SUFFERED IN SILENCE, content to let God set things right.
HE USED HIS SERVANT BODY TO CARRY OUR SINS to the cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way.
HIS WOUNDS BECAME YOUR HEALING.” (v 21-24 MSG)ShepherdLamb

Instill Your humility in me. Rip away any hint of the pride that hinders my heart being truly a servant’s heart.
Thank You for carrying my sin to the cross. Thank You for making me free by Your choice to shed Your blood for me. Thank You for healing my heart and soul.
You have MODELED the life You desire for me.
You have FREED me from the life You never intended for me.
You have HEALED this life You’ve given me.

“YOU WERE LOST SHEEP with no idea who you were or where you were going.
NOW YOU’RE NAMED AND KEPT FOR GOOD by the Shepherd of your souls.” (v 25 MSG)

Thank You for seeking me out. Thank You for rescuing me when You found me. Thank You for naming me as one of Your own. Thank You for keeping me as part of Your fold.

You, Lord, are my Shepherd. You tend my heart and guard my life. You guide my ways and save my soul. Keep transforming this sheep into the likeness of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God. Amen.