Archive for November, 2012

To begin with…

November 30th, 2012 by Maureen

He existed in the beginning with God. Jn. 1:2

This is the first verse in the Christmas story. There is inexplicable mystery in the fully human/fully God aspect of the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago and inexplicable joy for us in the wonder of His coming. C.S. Lewis may have put it best in the last book of his Chronicles of Narnia “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

Lord, I love celebrating this part of Your beautiful story.

Authoring redemption

November 29th, 2012 by Maureen

Even before the world was made God loved us…God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Eph.1:4-5

God  knew his beloved creation would fall and was already writing a redemption story for it before He even spoke it into existence. Threads of His overarching redemption story are woven into the way He forgives each of our everyday failures. His love for us is eternal.

Lord, help me to tell Your big story in all of my little stories.

Grace and peace

November 28th, 2012 by Maureen

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Rom. 1:7, I Cor. 1:3, 2 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 1:3, Eph. 1:2, Phil. 1:2, Col. 1:2, I Thess. 1:1, 2 Thess. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Phil. 1:3, 1 Pet. 1:2, 2 Pet.

Grace and peace seems to be the default greeting for Paul and Peter. When any of us have something to say, especially something important, grace and peace belong at the beginning of what we say and at the root of our intentions and purposes. Grace and peace are God’s gifts to our hearts, souls, spirits, and minds and a gift we can bring to our interactions with one another as well.

Lord, bring grace and peace to all I say and do today.

Going to my happy place

November 27th, 2012 by Maureen

for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. Prov. 15:15b

Feasting on life is much more about attitude than it is about circumstances. People who approach experiences with empathy, enthusiasm, and interest are likely to connect with the people around them and discover God’s wisdom, truth, and joy in day-to-day life. Practicing happiness is as important as practicing discipline; it requires the same sort of refocusing and reprioritizing before it becomes habitual.

Lord, help me to make my happy place become right here, right now.

Easy praise

November 26th, 2012 by Maureen

The godly will rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in him. And those who do what is right will praise him. Ps. 64:10

Not that any of us can be good enough or earn righteousness, but when we rest in Who Christ is and make our decisions and live our lives based on His nature and His teachings, we really can sense that godly peacefulness that comes with a clear conscience. It is easy to praise Him and feel at home in His house. Rejoicing is a natural state for the restored soul.

Lord, continually restore my soul and help me to do what is right.

What have you got in mind

November 25th, 2012 by Maureen

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. Heb. 11:39-40

Whatever vision we may cast, whatever plans we make, whatever disciplines we adopt, whatever route we can dream up for ourselves, God has something better. The journey we take with Him gets better when we relinquish control and let Him pack what we need, pick the route, choose the stops, and determine the destination.

Lord, lead me to something better than I have in mind.

More than a feeling…but still a feeling

November 24th, 2012 by Maureen

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Heb. 10:23

Trust is an emotional reliance on God’s love, power, and goodwill. Trust is an intellectual reliance on the truth of God and His word. Trust is a practical reliance on God’s provision, guidance, and intervention. We can rely on God in every aspect of our beings.

Lord, trusting You makes me feel very safe, and I thank You for that.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks…

November 23rd, 2012 by Maureen

Better to hear the quiet words of a wise person than the shouts of a foolish king. Ecc. 9:17

There is a lot of shouting in the marketplace this time of year. Messages come from every direction intended to create a sense of desire in order to sell products. This time of year  traditions that are supposed to be expressions of love and events that are supposed to be gatherings of celebration can become hollow, pressure-filled expenses and obligations unless we keep our eyes on the star and keep seeking the Child.

Lord, help me to hold on to the quiet satisfaction that thankfulness produces.

Overflowing with thankfulness

November 22nd, 2012 by Maureen

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Col. 2:7

Everybody rolls into Thanksgiving with specific disappointments and losses that can neither be the “in spite of” or the “because of” factors in the giving of thanks. Thankfulness does not depend so much on what we have or don’t have, what happened or didn’t happen, as it does on what nourishes our roots, what we consider foundational truth, and what we think is essential to peace and joy.

Lord, because of You my heart overflows with thankfulness.

Collective soul

November 21st, 2012 by Maureen

seek the Lord your God at the place of worship he himself will choose…There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you. Deut. 12:4,7

Not only are we to give thanks as individuals, but to gather as families, and to gather families into congregations to feast, praise and rejoice. We can rejoice not only in God’s gracious provision and presence in our own stories, but in each other’s individual stories, each congregations’ unique story, and the story of Christ’s bride the church. We are part of collective blessing.

Lord, let every Thanksgiving gathering become a place of worship.

Sing

November 20th, 2012 by Maureen

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath! Ps. 104:33

How we process our experiences, how we live out faith, how we deal with disappointment, how we yield in obedience, how we love, how we spend, even how we draw that last breath is a potential song of praise. Some songs will be bombastic, full-band head bangers and some, quiet little meditations. Whatever is going on, however we may feel, God still deserves a song of praise.

Lord, I will sing.

Dancing through a gate called cool

November 18th, 2012 by Maureen

Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Ps. 100:4

In the geography of God’s presence thanksgiving is the entry point. The only thing we can bring in is gratitude. He invites us into His courts where even rudimentary knowledge of Him, even a tiny glimpse of His glory, even the brush of His garment incites our souls to praise. There, caught up in His presence, we forget whatever it is we think we want because we are satisfied and complete in Him. Then, to make this the most amazing experience ever, He invites us to make our home there!

Lord, You are cool beyond description.

When dinner’s at your house

November 17th, 2012 by Maureen

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. Luke 19:6

When Jesus said, “Dinner’s at your house,” Zacchaeus wasn’t thinking about whether the house was clean or the pantry was stocked. He was completely jazzed that Jesus was coming to his house. Perhaps great excitement and joy is the best response to hosting an upcoming holiday gathering because it’s not about the food or decor, it’s about the people gathered, with Jesus in among them.

Lord, help me meet all the preparations for this season with the joyful, excited anticipation Your presence deserves.

 

Holiday stretch

November 16th, 2012 by Maureen

Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Neh. 8:10

Loss of a loved one, unpleasant memories, loneliness, or other issues can cast shadows on the holidays.  Feasting and celebration can seem like a stretch. Joy comes as we shift our focus away from self and toward thanking God and sharing what we have with others.

Lord, bring joy and celebration to heavy hearts.

Sacrificial thanks

November 15th, 2012 by Maureen

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Ps. 50:14

Thankfulness is something we offer to God, not just something we feel toward Him. In an offering of thankfulness we recognize that even the circumstances we don’t feel particularly thankful about can bring God glory. We offer our hearts and minds to process those unwelcome experiences the way Jesus would and offer our lives to live them out the way Jesus would. In doing so we offer a sacrifice of thankfulness that honors Christ and repels selfishness and evil.

Lord, I want to thank You with the choices I make.

Wide-eyed wonder

November 14th, 2012 by Maureen

Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. (Msg) Luke 11:33

Thankfulness opens our hearts to light and wonder. As we contemplate our blessings we better experience the incredible wonder contained in our relationships and our environment. Through thanksgiving we gain a greater sense of the breath-taking goodwill and power of our Creator and Provider.

Lord, in wide-eyed wonder I see Your gifts. I thank You for my life and all You’ve placed in it.

Having rights

November 13th, 2012 by Maureen

[Jesus]…did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” Phil. 2:6-7a

Jesus surrendered the will and power He could have exercised over other people. Instead He submitted Himself to the plan of the Father and focused His attention on the needs of others. Too often our responses to surrender and sacrifice involve declaring our rights rather than declaring our servanthood.

Jesus, thank You for Your acts of submission. Help me to submit with grace and joy to my role in loving and serving others.

Salute

November 12th, 2012 by Maureen

He will give a longing for justice to their judges. He will give great courage to their warriors who stand at the gates. Is. 28:6

Regardless of whether the soldiers or the nation agree about the justice or strategy of the wars to which we send our military, the warriors who stand at the gate deserve honor. The soldiers who fight the battles of a nation deserve justice within the country they serve. They deserve thanks.

Lord, help Veterans feel honored today. Help those who are decision-makers on their behalf to set policies that honor them as well. Give courage to those who still fight.

Loads of care

November 11th, 2012 by Maureen

The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. Ps. 145:14

When somebody is pushing a car uphill it’s heartwarming to see people run from every direction to help. Heavy stuff goes on in the lives of people around us, but ust when they are buckling under the load we often scatter away from them because the load makes them bad company. What we perceive as distance and attitude is often the result of an untold story and an invisible load.

Lord, help them know that You are under that load with them and show me how I can help.

Under the circumstances

November 9th, 2012 by Maureen

Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. I Thess. 5:17-18

The “this is God’s will” refers to “be thankful” not the “circumstances.” Circumstances can be influenced by any combination of human error, social or  environmental conditions, and the evil that abides in this world so it’s counterproductive to get hung up on why a circumstance occurred. Prayer and thanksgiving is a way of expressing trust in God and submitting ourselves to His service as He acts on the circumstance.

Lord, thank You for Your elegant solutions and loving hand in all my circumstances.