1 Corinthians 4   (The Message Version unless otherwise noted)
 1-4Don’t imagine us leaders to be something we aren’t. We are servants of Christ, not his masters. We are guides into God’s most sublime secrets, not security guards posted to protect them.

Jesus, all too often I have kept people from You instead of guiding them to You.  Don’t let that happen any more Lord.  You have humbled me and soften me, keep doing Your work in me so my love and forgiveness guide other sot You instead of guarding them from You. 

The requirements for a good guide are reliability and accurate knowledge. It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don’t even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless.

Jesus, I am s often concerned with what others think, especially those I love.  Yet Paul doesn’t care, so long as he is doing Your will.  Help me Lord to follow You and let popularity not matter.  Help me especially with those closest to me.  Change me Lord, change my heart so it only follows You.  Please Lord, my family needs You, not me.  Change me.

I’m not aware of anything that would disqualify me from being a good guide for you, but that doesn’t mean much. The Master makes that judgment. 5So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in. When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers. Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God.

Jesus, on that day, what will You bring out as evidence about me?  I would be so ashamed to have my sins shown to the world, but it would be fair.  I’ve done many things wrong.  If exposing them gives You glory, so be it.  Only You really matter.  I know in the end You paid the price for me, so its OK.  I hope You surprise me with some evidence of some good I have done for You.  I don’t feel like there is much, if anything.  But You know and see what I can’t.  Let there be some service for You Lord. 

 6All I’m doing right now, friends, is showing how these things pertain to Apollos and me so that you will learn restraint and not rush into making judgments without knowing all the facts. It’s important to look at things from God’s point of view. I would rather not see you inflating or deflating reputations based on mere hearsay.

Jesus, I make quick judgments so often.  I have learned that I’m wrong a lot, even when I’m sure I am right.  And who am I to judge in the first place?  Seeing things from Your point of view: that would change my life wouldn’t it.  I am short-sighted, self-centered, and earthly bound.  Lord, can my eyes even begin to see the people around me like You do?  Can my heart love just a little like You?  Since You live in me, I trust it can.  Help me Lord.  Open my eyes and heart to see and love as You do. 

 7-8For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. Without bringing either Apollos or me into it, you’re sitting on top of the world—at least God’s world—and we’re right there, sitting alongside you!

Jesus, everything I have and everything I am is from You.  It is so true.  I am now torn between 2 thoughts.  First, when I complain about myself, am I putting down Your gifts?  Second, how could I ever have been such a proud Pharisee, when I have never really had anything that I didn’t get from You and everything I received from You I surely didn’t deserve?

Lord, help me to cherish the gifts You have given me, both the things I have, and the person You made me.  Help me cherish my mind, my body, and my soul, with all their flaws because they are from You.  Help me cherish all the people in my life, both the helpful and the difficult, the givers and the takers, for they are all from You.  Thank-you Lord.  

 9-13It seems to me that God has put us who bear his Message on stage in a theater in which no one wants to buy a ticket. We’re something everyone stands around and stares at, like an accident in the street. We’re the Messiah’s misfits. You might be sure of yourselves, but we live in the midst of frailties and uncertainties. You might be well-thought-of by others, but we’re mostly kicked around. Much of the time we don’t have enough to eat, we wear patched and threadbare clothes, we get doors slammed in our faces, and we pick up odd jobs anywhere we can to eke out a living. When they call us names, we say, “God bless you.” When they spread rumors about us, we put in a good word for them. We’re treated like garbage, potato peelings from the culture’s kitchen. And it’s not getting any better.

Jesus, many people have willingly suffered so much to spread the good news of Your salvation.  I haven’t suffered at all and have been the recipient of so many of Your gifts.  Others have suffered so I could know You.  Lord, if it is my time to suffer, go ahead.  If You can use me, use me.  I know I’m too weak to suffer much, but I know You are strong and will stand by me.  Your will be done Jesus – whatever it is. 

 14-16I’m not writing all this as a neighborhood scold just to make you feel rotten. I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.

Jesus, I am a father.  I need to help my children grow up, but I feel like a spiritual child myself.  I can’t do this job alone.  I can’t really do it at all.  I’ve made so many mistakes.  Please guide me and strengthen me and keep me in Your way.  Some how make me a good and wise father for my children.  Help me lead them to You.  I have so little time.  Change me quickly Lord, so I can still be an influence to them.  Change me! 

 17This is why I sent Timothy to you earlier. He is also my dear son, and true to the Master. He will refresh your memory on the instructions I regularly give all the churches on the way of Christ.

Jesus, send me a helper, or send one to my family.  Please Lord, bring every one of us home to You.  I need a helper.  Please Lord. 

 18-20I know there are some among you who are so full of themselves they never listen to anyone, let alone me. They don’t think I’ll ever show up in person. But I’ll be there sooner than you think, God willing, and then we’ll see if they’re full of anything but hot air. God’s Way is not a matter of mere talk; it’s an empowered life.

Jesus, I should be living an empowered life.  I have known You a long time.  Why am I still so weak?  My family needs me to lead and empowered life right now Lord.  We all need Your power and mercy.  Fill us Lord with Your poser so we can glorify You.  Change us Lord, change us.  Change me Lord, change me. 

 21So how should I prepare to come to you? As a severe disciplinarian who makes you toe the mark? Or as a good friend and counselor who wants to share heart-to-heart with you? You decide.

Jesus, help me to obey and discipline myself so You and I can share heart-to-heart.  Help me change so You can be a friend and counselor in my life.  But Lord, if I do not change and I need Your discipline, please do not spare it.  Do whatever You need to do to make me who You want me to be.  Otherwise, I will never be able to be a friend or counselor to anyone else.  Help me Lord.