Archive for December, 2011

All the time in the world and more

December 31st, 2011 by Maureen

I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. John 5:24

It’s okay to use New Year’s as a starting point for needed change, but our eternal God is not bound by these artificial chunks of time we call years. God is always making things new and beginning with now. We can too because eternal life isn’t just something we’re getting, it’s something we have.

Lord, no resolutions, just You.

Move it, move it

December 29th, 2011 by Maureen

But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” Mark 1:38

Christ is always on the move. He has purpose and mission for each one of us. His commission is always where we are right now, but sometimes he specifically calls us to move to a different location or vocation or lifestyle.  Moving could involve another country, state, city, neighborhood, or abode. Moving might mean changing jobs or schools. Moving always means going across the street, hall, or room to meet and develop relationships with people we don’t know.

Lord, keep me moving.

Does “abundance” need authentication?

December 28th, 2011 by Maureen

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NAS)

Ever see one of those movie scenes where the thief replaces the item of real value with a good fake? It’s easy to miss the switch and accept a life less than Christ came to give. Jesus wants to make our lives big, audacious, purposeful, joyful, and satisfying. The thief comes to shrink our lives by holding up the mundane, the profane, and the inane, and calling it abundance.

Lord, please authenticate my treasure. I want to settle for no less than authentic abundance.

The Reason is not seasonal

December 27th, 2011 by Maureen

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (ESV)

If Jesus is the Reason for the season then salvation is the reason for the Reason. If humans didn’t need rescuing from sin and its effects, if the author of evil were not still at work in world, if we were capable of saving ourselves from the ravages and influences of evil then there would be no reason for a Messiah.

Lord, in every day, in every season, I have a reason to praise You!

Jesus is not in the returns line

December 26th, 2011 by Maureen

All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Jn. 17:10

Today, all over the world people are reconsidering their gifts and standing in return lines to exchange those gifts for something they think is better. Jesus, however, is not in line. He wanted us so much He paid for us Himself and yet also considers us gifts from the Father. We don’t have to understand exactly how this works in order to rejoice in how much He loves and treasures each of us.

Lord, I am continually astonished and delighted by Your grace.

Keeping Christmas

December 24th, 2011 by Maureen

Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! Luke 1: 46-47 But Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Luke 2:19

Mary seems to have experienced triumphant joy and pondering joy. It’s entirely appropriate to be excited about feeling the presence of God and to respond with praise. We should enjoy all that Christmas means and pour our hearts into it. It’s important to hold on to the truth behind our felt responses to the season and to keep thinking about it’s significance after the immediate feelings of joy and celebration pass.

Lord, let Christmas be something I keep and ponder.

Casting the Christmas story

December 23rd, 2011 by Maureen

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2 (ESV)

“Bethlehem? That’s random,” might have been the response to God’s choice for the Messiah’s birthplace. Those who seem too little, foolish, weak, and random often have unexpected roles in God’s redemption story. When God includes us in the story He’s been telling “from ancient days,” there are no small roles.

Lord, thank you for giving me a part in Your amazing story.

The best Christmas present ever

December 21st, 2011 by Maureen

If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water. Jn. 4:10

Wrapping Christ up as a baby and placing Him on earth as a free Gift of grace to us took careful preparation and extreme sacrifice. In this verse Jesus is presenting grace with the wrapping still on but He knows what will happen when the woman unwraps the gift He’s about to give her. Heaven joyfully anticipates the moment each of us receives the Gift.

Thank you, Lord, Your grace is exactly what I need and it always fits perfectly.

Good news of great joy

December 20th, 2011 by Maureen

…I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! the Savior – yes the Messiah, the Lord-has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! Luke 2:10b-11 Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Mark 16:15

The angel announced the same good news that Jesus sent his disciplines into the world to joyfully share. It’s easy for individuals to see how much the world needs a Savior, but Jesus came to offer this salvation one person at a time. That good news of great joy remains good and true and available to everyone every single day.

Lord, I rejoice!

Wonder is wonderful

December 19th, 2011 by Maureen

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kings, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. Col. 1:15-16

C.S. Lewis wrote “In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.” The very idea of Emmanuel-God-with-us is jaw-dropping, inexplicable, amazing, mysterious, and thrilling. Miracles aren’t there for explanation or analysis. Enjoy the wonder.

Lord, You really are wonderful.

Membership has its privileges

December 18th, 2011 by Maureen

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  Phil. 2:6-7

Birth in a stable into a working class family doesn’t seem like a great start for a Messiah. As human beings we spend a lot of time working to gain privilege and better humble circumstances yet, when He could have chosen any lifestyle, Christ chose a humble one.

Lord, my earthly lifestyle is nothing compared to the privilege of being in Your family.

When God gets specific, get going

December 17th, 2011 by Maureen

After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Matt. 2:13

Sometimes God gives specific instructions and even says why. And, since it was the second time an angel spoke to Joseph in a dream, God’s message delivery vehicle seemed reliable. Joseph didn’t even ask “Egypt? Tonight? Really?”

Lord, help me to recognize your direct instructions and follow them.

Glory, glory, glory

December 16th, 2011 by Maureen

I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.  Jn. 17:22 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. Rom 8:17a

Thinking about how reconciliation and transformation includes the transferrance of God’s glory to us offer a glimpse into Mary’s humbled and amazed response to the angel’s news. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Luke 1:38 KJV

Lord, I have no idea why and certainly no clue as to how, but be it unto me…

Individual-sized Christmas story

December 15th, 2011 by Maureen

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” Luke 2:34-35

The story hangs on what we do with Jesus. He is the hero of the Christmas story, the salvation Story, but is He the personal Messiah destined to be our joy in each of our individual stories?

Lord, reveal and heal my deepest thoughts. Tell the better story you mean to tell.

See and rejoice

December 14th, 2011 by Maureen

I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. Luke 2:30

Simeon was in the temple expecting a Messiah and Jesus came to him. Mary and Joseph were planning a wedding. The shepherds were at work. The wise men were looking for signs of truth. Paul was actively opposing Him. The Gentiles didn’t even have Him on the radar. Jesus came into all our varied lives so we could see His salvation and rejoice at His coming. 

Lord I have seen Your salvation and I am so glad You came to earth, so glad You came to me.

Appropriately extravagant

December 13th, 2011 by Maureen

They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matt 2:11

I received an extravagant gift with the price tag still on it and was appalled that someone would spend so much on that item. Then I realized I was reacting like Judas reacted to the extravagant woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. The gifts of the magi were also extravagant gifts to Christ. The cross and the manger and grace are God’s extravagant gifts to us. 

Lord, help me to reflect Your extravagant love.

Neon stars

December 12th, 2011 by Maureen

And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. Matt. 2:9

God wanted the Magi to find Jesus. The star was a classier version of a giant flashing neon arrow leading straight to the stable. Sort of like the church is supposed to be the light of the world with its spotlight aimed at Jesus.

Lord, help me to keep pointing to the place where You are.

Signs and seekers

December 11th, 2011 by Maureen

About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matt. 2:1b-2

Even before sending Paul to the Gentiles God wrote us Gentiles into the story of Jesus’ birth.  It probably helped that these wise men were paying attention, looking for signs of life in the universe and open to accept truth wherever it was revealed.

Lord, help those who do not yet recognize Who You really are to see Your star and worship You.

Go!

December 10th, 2011 by Maureen

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15

After God almighty put Bethlehem on their radars, the shepherds didn’t just say “Well, that was cool!” and go back to watching sheep. They changed their plans, left their unfinished work,  and took off for the place God was moving. If God was letting them in on His plans, they wanted to be participants rather than merely witnesses.

Lord, help me respond to Your agenda with “Let’s go!”

Candid shots of shepherds

December 9th, 2011 by Maureen

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified… Luke 2:8-9

We expect to hear from God during times we set aside for prayer and worship but few of us go to work expecting angelic proclamations. It might be better that the angel shows up unexpectedly. People who are caught off guard by God tend to respond more authentically and be more open to His purposes.

Lord, take the candid shot; I’m just awkward when I pose.