“May the Lord show special kindness to Onesiphorus and all his family because he often visited and encouraged me. He was never ashamed of me because I was in chains. When he came to Rome, he searched everywhere until he found me.” -2 Timothy 1:16-17
While I would never want to name a kid after this guy, I certainly would want kids to be like him – adults for that matter too! He is an encourager, and being an encourager requires something very specific. An encourager must be willing to go out of their way again and again. Paul was in prison, and this man visits again and again. Traveling to Rome, finding a place to stay, and making time for repeated prison visits is no small sacrifice. On top of all this Paul adds that he searched for Paul until he found him.
God’s call for me/we to be encouragers means a readiness to go out of my way; to make sacrifices repeatedly; to persist until found. We tend to hate the slightest inconvenience. This has to be shed to encourage. While many people we may minister to may not literally be in prison, they can be in prisons of their own struggle. They, too, must be found. They will require persistence because they may at first push us away. But the encourager presses on and in.
Father, make me a better encourager…
Readings: Ezekiel 37, 2 Timothy 1, Psalm 17
“And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved…” – 2 Peter 3:15
Jesus came to this earth with a mission – for people to believe in Him and so be saved. Jesus gave the disciples and us a mission – to “go and make disciples of all nations”, in other words share the message of life only in Jesus. Amazingly, even the second coming of Christ is focused on redemption. So often we/I think of the second coming and associate it with judgment. But this verse tells us the return of Christ is arranged so people will be saved. Now obviously, not all will be saved because not all will believe. However, the Lord delays the return of Christ for more people to be saved. Maybe it is time to associate the second coming of Christ more with his mission than judgment. Certainly judgment will come on that day, but it will be a consequence of those who refuse to believe. In the end, the return of Christ is more about salvation. This hope coupled with the reality of judgment for all who do not receive Jesus as God’s remedy for our sin, should stir a fresh passion to share Christ with others. It should also cause us to plead with God to fulfill His promise through us to “make us fishers of men.”
Jesus, my wonderful savior, keep my focus and passion on sharing you with others in a way Your Spirit will use to lead others to receive and believe in you!
Readings: Isaiah 21, 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Peter 3, Hosea 13
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” -Philippians 3:1
There are a few things that would come to mind that would be a safeguard, a protection to my faith. Time in the Word of God would be a safeguard for my faith. Prayer would be a safeguard for my faith. Listening for the voice and leading of the Spirit would be a safeguard for my faith. The ministry of other believers in my life would safeguard my faith. But Paul bypasses all of these. The safeguard of my faith is rejoicing in the Lord. Rejoicing in God’s love, attention, provision… and so much more is cause for rejoicing. Rejoicing in whatever happens to me protects my faith because rejoicing in “whatever” grows my faith that God is good and will always do what is best. Rejoicing gets my eyes off of me and my circumstances and focuses me on God and His ability. This kind of rejoicing is a choice, a faith choice. This kind of rejoicing changes my attitude and thinking when I am not feeling so joyful. In essence, rejoicing builds joy. Seems crazy, but that is how God has designed it to work! So, I’m going to choose to rejoice…
Father, in the “whatevers” of life strengthen my choice to rejoice in you by faith.
Readings: Philippians 3, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, Mark 13
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” -1 Corinthians 15:58
Work is at times a great joy and pleasure. At other times it is just work – grinding out, persevering, enduring work. And at times, even work for the Lord can feel the same. And, therein is the problem – feelings defining how we work. Working enthusiastically can also fall into this trap. Enthusiasm is often treated as a feeling, something that can be ginned up, manufactured, created. So, if we create the right environment, we can work enthusiastically for the Lord. However, this verse paints a different picture. Enthusiasm is not an emotion, or feeling, or created by environment. Enthusiasm is a choice, a faith filled choice. I choose to work enthusiastically because God works through what I do and it always accomplishes what He plans. I work enthusiastically in serving the Lord because there is eternal reward in serving the Lord. I work enthusiastically because God Himself approaches each day, each moment enthusiastically. I choose enthusiasm by faith.
Father, keep before me that enthusiasm in serving you is a faith choice in what you are doing.
Readings: Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 15, Hebrews 9, Joel 3
“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 this earthly body. Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others…” -2 Corinthians 5:10-11a
Fellow Christians talk about sharing their faith with others. In these verses it is more than just sharing. It is about trying to persuade people – of who Jesus is, what He has done for them, and their need to believe in him. Which leads me to a question – Do I just talk about the Lord with others or do I seek to persuade? I seek to live on the persuasion side of sharing with others.
These verses further speak of why the Apostle seeks to lead people to Christ – judgment Day. We are to share the need for Christ with others because of judgment. Standing before Christ gives us two motivating reasons to share Christ with others. First, we/I will stand before Him. As a believer in Jesus I will not account for my sins, since they are forgiven, but I will receive based on what I have done with my new life in Christ. Leading others to Christ will be rewarded. Second, everyone will stand before Christ to be judged. People who do not believe and receive Jesus will go to hell. I am, therefore, moved to share Jesus with others to spare them from hell. When looked at in this light, some of the “reasons” we use to hold back from sharing Christ with others fade.
Father, use me/us in rescuing others, both friends and family, from a future in hell.
Readings: 1 Peter 1, 2 Corinthians 5, Revelation 21, Revelation 22
“We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” -2 Corinthians 6:7
Weapons. When I think of weapons guns of varying sizes comes to mind; or military armaments, even swords. When it comes to Spiritual weapons I may think of the Scriptures, prayer, praise, fasting, singing. But righteousness? Righteousness is a gift. Righteousness is what Christ provides me because of my faith in Him. Righteousness continues with following the gift of righteousness with seeking to live a righteousness life in the power of the Spirit. But righteousness – the gift of righteousness is a weapon for both attacking and defense. Recognizing the gift of righteousness rather than relying on my living a righteous life is a weapon! When I count on what Christ gives me rather than my performance it is a weapon I can use to attack doubts, fears, temptation, and spiritual warfare. It is a weapon that relies solely on the cross of Christ. Righteousness is also my means of defense. Any attacks on me to cause me to doubt, or give up are pushed aside because my trust is in the righteousness Jesus provides, not my sinlessness.
Father, let your righteousness be my fortress and victory.
Readings: Nehemiah 8, Isaiah 61, Luke 10, 2 Corinthians 6
Day 78 – Nehemiah 8, Isaiah 61, Luke 10, 2 Corinthians 6
Promises About Eternal Life
Day 79 – 1 Peter 1, 2 Corinthians 5, Revelation 21, Revelation 22
Day 80 – Hebrews 4, Job 19, 1 Thessalonians 4, Acts 1
Day 81 – Titus 2, 1 Corinthians 15, Hebrews 9, Joel 3
Day 82 – Philippians 3, Matthew 24, Matthew 25, Mark 13
Day 83 – Isaiah 21, 1 Thessalonians 5, 2 Peter 3, Hosea 13
Day 84 – Ezekiel 37, 2 Timothy 1, Psalm 17, John 5