“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” -2 Thessalonians 1:11
Prayer, as Christians we profess to believe in it, and practice it… well sort of. I sometimes wonder if our prayers only touch the margins of what God has in mind. We pray for the sick, as we should. We pray for safe travels, again ok to pray about. But if this is the major thrust of our praying we may very well be missing out on some marvelous answers to prayer. Anemic praying can only lead to anemic believers, churches, and communities.
Look at what Paul prays in this verse. He prays for God to enable them to live a worthy life. Living worthy was not on them, or us. Living worthy is a work of God in us. He does it. Even more astounding is the next part of his prayer. He asks God to give them the power to accomplish all (not most or some) of the good things that faith prompts them to do. He prays for God to accomplish through them all that faith inspires. Imagine what the church would be like if all who came were accomplishing all the good their faith prompted them to do! Imagine, what God might do through you/me by asking him to give us the power to do all the good things our faith inspires. Imagine what would change in our churches if we were asking God to give everyone (by name, not just an all inclusive prayer) in our church the power to accomplish the good things their faith prompted. Imagine how the very accomplishing of those things would lead to a greater faith for bigger things the next time around!
Father, grow my praying for others that I would ask for you to give them the power to accomplish all their faith prompts them to do. Do so in me, and grow our faith for even greater things.
Readings: 1 Corinthians 9, 1 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 19, 2 Thessalonians 1
“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
“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
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” -Hebrews 12:1-2a
God has a plan for each of our lives. Each one unique to us. Here it is described as a race. God has set a race before me/you. I am called to run this race with endurance… endurance! I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I want to quit. I don’t want to keep going, to hang in there, to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I want to sit. I want to do something, almost anything else. I get tired of it being hard, whether relationships, goals, personal matters, or ministry. I have had enough more times than I can count (sometimes in just one week). But God calls me to run with endurance – to keep going. This race is not won by being first or the best. It is won by enduring, finishing.
How do we endure? We keep our eyes on Jesus. We remind ourselves of what He endured and we continue on. We keep our eyes on Jesus for His strength to go on. We keep our eyes on Jesus instead of the pain or heartache. We keep our eyes on Jesus to avoid complaining because complaining is filled with excuses and reasons to quit. We fix our eyes on Jesus for Him to remind us that He has set our course for our good and His glory. And so, we choose to endure no matter how slow we move.
With my eyes on Jesus and the choice to endure hurt feelings no longer rule my life. With my eyes on Jesus and the choice to endure faith is restored in what God wants to do in ministry. With my eyes on Jesus and the choice to endure troubled relationships have Divine guidance for me to do everything I am to do. With eyes on Jesus and the choice to endure, others will be inspired by what Christ can do through someone willing to live by faith. With my eyes on Jesus and the choice to endure faith becomes real – tangible. It produces courage.
Father may my eyes have laser focus on Jesus and may my will be resolved to endure with you.
Readings: 2 Corinthians 6, Hebrews 12, Psalm 94, Isaiah 53
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” -John 10:10
Who is “them”? Believers! Really? My brother has what is known (in slang) as the “suicide disease.” Supposedly it primarily afflicts women over the age of 70. He is a 53 year old male. Three years ago he had surgery to take care of it. In three years it has returned. There is no medication to take care of the pain and still function. IT can hurt to eat, talk, have the wind blow across your face. It can keep you from sleeping at night. How is that a rich and satisfying life? Yet he still functions through the pain doing those things he must to earn a living and those things he enjoys in life. In the midst of pain he chooses a rich and satisfying life.
God’s purpose for all who believe in Jesus is to give us a rich and satisfying life! I/we cannot interpret my life by circumstances. If we do so it will not seem so rich and satisfying at times. I cannot, must not interpret my life by how I feel. I can feel terrible about my life, situation, people… But a rich and satisfying life is not built on how I feel. If I do, a rich and satisfying life would come and go moment to moment. Clearly, Jesus’ promise of giving me a rich and satisfying life rests on faith and trust. A rich and satisfying life is mine because I believe God’s promises. A rich and satisfying life is mine because I trust God. A rich and satisfying life is a faith filled choice.
Father, I choose to believe your promise of a rich and satisfying life. Help me to choose it even in the painful times.
Readings: John 10, 2 Peter 1, 1 Peter 5
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” – Ephesians 3:16
If I/you could do anything, if money, resources, ability and power were no object, what would I do? Stuff, places might come to mind but in the real world, in the end I/we want our lives to count for something. Something that matters beyond our own lifetime. How often have I limited what I might do or accomplish? There is always someone out there more skilled, more talented, and with more resources. But God promises those who believe in Jesus that the well from which I draw is glorious, and has unlimited resources because the resources are in God not me. God’s unlimited resources give me an inner strength that is capable of handling anything life throws at me.
Father, Thank you that the resources I draw on are yours not mine
Readings: 1 Peter 2, Matthew 5, Ephesians 3, Ephesians 4
Reading: Psalm 4, Psalm 29, Isaiah 26, 2 Thessalonians 3
“But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, AND YOU SMOOTH OUT THE PATH AHEAD OF THEM.” -Isaiah 26:7
I ride a bicycle regularly. I know which roads are smooth and which are rough. Rough roads slow me down and can be quite jarring. I’ve been on dirt roads in my car that were so rough I was driving 15 mph or less. And, I can verify there have been many times that the path ahead of me, and the path I was on, did not seem smooth. It felt more like it was shaking me apart.
In this verse I am promised, promised, that God smooths out the path ahead of me. He does so, because I am righteous not in myself but through my faith in Christ. What stands out is the truth that when I thought the road was rough, God evidently had gone ahead of me to prevent it from being rougher. And, since God goes ahead of me to make the path smooth, then when I think or feel it is rough means there is a problem with my perception, my feelings, my thinking. The problem is likely fear. I’m afraid of what is or might or probably will happen. No matter what I face, God smooths out the path before me. In that I can rest and be confident. That is called living by faith!
Father, thank you for smoothing out the path ahead of me. Help me to see my path as you have made it rather than how I feel about it.