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.

Col 4:7-18

Father, make me more like Jesus.

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Father, You’ve said elsewhere in Your Word through Paul,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV)

Here in his letter to the Colossians, he actually acts out what You’d led him to write in the letter to the Corinthians.  He shares about the various people in his life at that time who’ve been a support and comfort for him, especially while he was in prison.  Then, he sends some of the people and greetings from others in order to encourage, strengthen and comfort the portion of Your Church in Colosse.  Here’s how Paul related to his friends.  He was . . .

AFFIRMING OF THEM

How dear Paul’s friends had become!  You had given him an enormous and priceless treasure in each one.  The way in which he describes them causes me to reflect on the treasures You’ve revealed through the people You’ve placed in my life over the years:  “a dear brother,” “a faithful minister,” “fellow servant in the Lord,”  “faithful and dear brother,” “one of you,” “fellow prisoner,” “have proved a comfort to me,” “servant of Christ Jesus,” “always wrestling in prayer for you,” “working hard for you,” and “our dear friend.”  Through his words, he was able to be AFFIRMING of them, pointing out to others how You were using their lives to touch another.

THANKFUL FOR THEM

This entire portion of the letter to the Colossians has an aroma of gratitude, as it becomes very evident that Paul is THANKFUL for them.  They were “dear” to him, folks he cherished, especially in the gift of knowing them.  He considered them “faithful,” or people he knew he could count on.  He enjoyed their company as “fellow” whatever, be it “servant,” “prisoners,” or “workers.”  Paul knew and expressed how blessed he’d been by the gifts of these friends You’d supplied.

GENEROUS WITH THEM

In addition, when it came to his friends, Paul was GENEROUS with them.  He shared them with others in Your kingdom, like the Colossians.  He sent them out for purposes like “that you may know about our circumstances” and “that he may encourage Your hearts.”  He encouraged the Colossians by letting them know that one of his friends was “always wrestling in prayer for” them–with the aim that they might “stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”  (Father, remind me to pray those things for those who are dear to me!)

Father, indeed You have blessed my life with soooooooo MANY people who have been used by You in my life–much in the same ways You used these folks in Paul’s life, and some even more!  In my friendship with these people-blessings, may I be AFFIRMING of them, THANKFUL for them and GENEROUS with them.

Thanks for Paul’s example and for the reflection of Your heart in his.  Make it so others can see Jesus in me when they look at me too.  Amen.

Ephesians 1

Jesus, be the Lord over ALL my life.
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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (v 1)

Wow, Father! This passage is stuffed FULL of the blessings You’ve given to me. Your actions have poured more blessings than I could ever imagine into this vessel You’ve created me to be!

YOU CHOSE ME
~in Christ
~before the creation of the world
~to be HOLY and BLAMELESS in His sight

YOU DECIDED TO ADOPT ME
~into Your family
~in love
~through Jesus
~in accordance with Your pleasure and will
~to the praise of Your glorious grace

YOU HAVE FREELY GIVEN YOUR GRACE TO ME
~in the One You love

YOU HAVE REDEEMED ME, FORGIVEN MY SINS
~through Jesus’ blood
~in accordance with the riches of Your grace

YOU LAVISHED YOUR GRACE ON ME
~with all WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING

YOU MADE YOUR WILL KNOWN TO ME
~according to Your good pleasure

YOU PURPOSED IN CHRIST TO PUT YOUR WILL INTO EFFECT
“when the times will have reached their fulfillment to bring all things in heaven
and on earth together under one head, even Christ”

YOU INCLUDED ME IN CHRIST
~when I heard the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation

YOU GAVE ME YOUR HOLY SPIRIT
~as a “deposit guaranteeing my inheritance” until I get to see You face to face

When I look back through this passage at all that You’ve given me or done in and for me, I’m in awe! You’ve CHOSEN me, are making me HOLY and BLAMELESS and have ADOPTED me. You’ve give me Your GRACE, FORGIVENESS (REDEMPTION), WISDOM and UNDERSTANDING. You’ve INCLUDED me. You gave me Your presence continually through the gift of Your HOLY SPIRIT.

Thank You, Father, for all that You’ve done, for all that You are doing and for all that You’re going to do in, with and through my life!

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.