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I belong to a church where the Word is clearly and effectively taught. It’s one of my favorite blessings.

Today I went to the early service. Brenda was out of town and I was up in plenty of time, so arrived early enough to hear the prelude. Tammy was at the grand piano today, and I knew the words to the old familiar tunes of the arrangements she played.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

I’ve been contemplating grace all week, particulary what Andrew Murray wrote about it, being more than just pardon, grace is that thing that flows into everything we are not to make us everything God is – and therefore wants us to be.

So I wrote a note to remind me this week:
“Eyes on Jesus – all else fades.”

Next came a contemplative text, “Jesus, the very thought of Thee…” I know those words too. Several stanzas, believe it or not, so while the elderly lady sitting next to me read from the Psalms, I closed my eyes and silently sang to myself. Near the end of Tammi’s arrangement I wrote next to my first note:
“Jesus, thoughts of you FILL me.”

Church hadn’t even begun and I was already blessed!

The music was good. Free of hum, feedback or distractions. When it came time for the message of the day, my heart was more than ready. I felt like a farm-hand ready for a home-cooked country dinner. Well God satisfied my appetite today, more than enough. Today’s guest speaker is a Bible college president in Pennsylvania, and he spoke on the seven portraits of faithfulness Paul painted for his son in the faith, Timothy as found in 2 Timothy chapter 2.

Now I love 2 Timothy 2. One of my driving motives has its base in 2 Timothy 2.2… teach others also. It’s heart of what I do in the way of disciple-making. So when Jim said we’d be spending the morning in 2 Timothy 2, I was already with him.

I watched and listened with interest as he described the seven portraits of faithfulness – our faithfulness in response to God’s unwavering faithfulness, actually – which Paul hoped Timothy would flesh out in his own life through the years.

You can see the entire service [ here ]. if you don’t have time to watch the entire service you can scroll ahead to the message once the download finishes. But here’s Paul’s art gallery in a nutshell:

My faithfulness to God is illustrated in these strong and positive images:

A Multiplying Son. One who multiplies my faith, taking what I’ve been taught, adding to it as I study, and then freely investing in others. 2 Tim 2. 1-2

A Soldier. One who’s unencumbered with earthly affairs and concerns vv 3-4
(I wrote “Focused soldier” in my notes.)

A Qualified Athlete. (v 5) As opposed to dis-qualified.
Star athletes know the rules and stays in-bounds. (I wrote “Compliance is big deal on the court, the field, with the FAA, the FCC, FDA — and especially with God. Much better to comply beforehand than after. Less costly too!”)

A Farmer. (v6) One who feeds himself as well as works hard to provide for others.

An Approved Craftsman (v 15) Able to handle the Word the way God intended.

An Honorable Vessel (vv 20-22) Useful for things God really wants to do. Like fine china, in a way.

An Amicable Servant (v 24) Gentle, not quarrelsome or argumentative.

What struck me today was that ALL of these are to characterize my life over time. There’s always going to be one or two of these where God is going to say “Let me do a little work here, may I?” to which I hope I always reply, “Yes, of course!”

Seeing them all today, like oil portraits in an art gallery brought it home to me. (Our speaker used portraits and photos to help illustrate his point instead of outline points – nice touch!)

Lord, I want to be one of those, who when people look at my life find themselves saying – Phil sought to be these things. All of them. Life came with challenges (doesn’t it always?) but he followed hard after God, and he’s all of these. Would you help me to that end? Let your grace flow into the places where I’m deficient and let your strength show itself where I’m weak. Bring your name honor -LOTS of it- as you work in my life.

The best part of today’s sermon was that our speaker challenged the church “from here forward” without beating anyone up for what happened back in the past. God’s faithfulness in loving His children welcomes us back , even when we’ve been disobedient (see Luke 15 if you want to read the story on that one), heals, lifts, restores and encourages us – then empowers us with HIS strength.

I’m glad I’m one of His! If this sounds new to you, there’s more about it here. Or drop me a note and we can talk more. There’s no life I’d rather live!

I like the idea of God painting portraits of me that will one day line the gallery of my life. He’s a Master artist and I intend to cooperate with him fully. At the same time I am painting myself into the portraits of God at work in my life, and I want to do that like I endeavor to to everything I do – with excellence.

Selah ~

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