October 18 – October 24, 2016

WORD

6As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.  7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  8From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

16At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me.  May it not be counted against them!  17But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  18The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom.  To him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

We might not see a checkered flag wave in front of us as we live into the faithfulness to which God has called us.  In fact, it is often difficult to see what results (or, to use a more biblical word, fruits) come from the faithful actions we take in our day-to-day lives of discipleship.  Rarely do the deeds we are called to in Christ have a set beginning and end.  However, Paul assures us that one day we will experience a checkered flag moment, so to speak.  When we come into the presence of Jesus Christ at the resurrection, then we will receive a crown of righteousness.

What do you think this crown will look like?  Will it look like anything at all, or is it an internal reality as opposed to an external reality?  What sort of character would an internal crown of righteousness have?  How will such a gift from Christ make a difference in our resurrection life?

Are you living life in such a way that demonstrates a longing for Christ?  Or does such a scene described by Paul seem out of reach or far-fetched?  How might you prepare yourself for this moment of entering into all which you have been racing toward in life?  How might you be crowned with righteousness, peace, grace, and mercy even now?

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, October 18 – 1 Corinthians 4
  • Wednesday, October 19 – 1 Corinthians 5
  • Thursday, October 20 – 1 Corinthians 6
  • Friday, October 21 – 1 Corinthians 7
  • Saturday, October 22 – 1 Corinthians 8
  • Sunday, October 23 – 1 Corinthians 9
  • Monday, October 24 –  1 Corinthians 10

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom.

Have you ever felt as if you are under attack from forces beyond your control?  Who is there to fight for you in such battles?  Who will be your rescue?  Thanks and praise to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  As Paul reminds us, “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  Furthermore, Paul reminds us in our passage for this week that our rescue in these struggles will be the Lord.  Jesus Christ has prepared for us a place in the kingdom of God.  He will give us the strength, endurance, and power to combat all that comes to destroy us, so that we might someday take our place within that kingdom.

Paul also reminds us that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  God’s love is present to allow you to persevere in hardship.  Nothing can invalidate this promise.  For Paul mentions even death as one of those elements that has no authority or love-diminishing power over the authority of God’s love.

So, claim these promises of God’s love, endurance, and kingdom preparations as you pray in the midst of your struggles this week.  Ask God to rescue you from your trials and do not trust in anything else, for all else will ultimately disappoint you.  Be attentive to God’s work on your behalf and respond in readiness and obedience.  Pray always in the hope of this good news: God will not fail to fulfill the promises made to us in Jesus Christ!

Meditation Focus: But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength

What is the source of your strength?  This week draw your strength from the ultimate ultimate source of empowerment – the Holy Spirit of God.  Imagine a typical day in your life.  Picture yourself waking up, getting ready, going to work or school or out into the community.  Imagine your interactions with people – some easy to get along with and some who are perpetually difficult to deal with.  As you imagine each of these situations, picture Christ beside you, standing near you in strength.  Then feel the rush of the Holy Spirit as Christ breathes peace and power upon you.  Watch as the Spirit enters into the temple of your body and brings grace to every corner of your heart, mind, and soul.  Then, as you encounter these different situations during the day, remember that Christ is still beside you and the Holy Spirit is still within you.

Journaling Focus: have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Erik Erikson argued that our adulthood, particularly our later adulthood, is preoccupied with questions of meaning as to what we leave behind and produce with our lives.  Thus, we begin to wonder whether our lives have been valuable and worthwhile.  Furthermore, John Wesley argued that it was important that one know how to die well.  Paul, here, is in his last days and it seems as if he is reflecting on the end of his life.

What would it mean for you to say, one day, have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith?  Would you need to change anything about your life now?  Is there anything that God has called you to which you have left unfulfilled?  What keeps you from unfulfilling such calls?  What must you focus your life on to finish the race?  What might you leave behind and produce, through Christ, that will make your life worthwhile?  Consider what keeping the faith would look like for you and set a vision before you (in writing) of how you might get there.

Breath Prayer: Father, give us holy endurance.

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