Archive for December, 2012

Looking back and taking stock

December 31st, 2012 by Maureen

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecc. 3:1

2012 has been a year full of births and deaths, graduations and retirements, weeping and laughing, winning and losing, fighting and peacemaking, gathering and dicarding, conversations and contemplations, giving and taking, selfishness and generosity. Every human purpose has been pursued and we can’t change any of it now. But God can take even our hardest seasons and use those experiences to accomplish His purposes.

Lord,  forgive those seasons when I pursued my own purposes over Yours and restore even those seasons to Your purposes.

End of year evaluation

December 29th, 2012 by Maureen

 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Cor. 7:10

As the year ends it’s natural to celebrate successes and regret failures. Repentance within the peace and safety of God’s grace allows for a healthy process of admitting mistakes, grieving failure, learning from mistakes, and shedding the baggage of guilt. Guilt is swallowed up in redemption the way death is swallowed up in victory.

Lord, replace my regrets with Your wisdom and peace.

Encouragement avenue

December 28th, 2012 by Maureen

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. Rom. 1:12

Encouragement is a two way street for friends who share faith in Christ.  It’s equally encouraging to be able to say to another believer, “I was just thinking about that,” and to be able to say, “I never thought of that before.” Our perspectives, perceptions, and expectations regarding Christ’s power and love are enlarged when we hear and tell stories about how Jesus shows up in our unique circumstances.

Lord, thank you for my fellow believers in Christ.

Clowns, trolls, and other flawed creatures

December 27th, 2012 by Maureen

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. 1:5

The family of God is full of clowns, trolls, and other flawed, dysfunctional creatures many of us would never pick as friends. You can’t pick your family. To paraphrase Robert Frost, church is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.

Lord, thank you for the those who had the grace to take me in.

Keeping Christmas

December 26th, 2012 by Maureen

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. Rev. 2:4

People are nicer to each other at Christmas. Somehow the joy, goodwill, and bit of extra patience that miraculously happens in a crowded store before Christmas seems to dissapate in the return line the day after.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.” – Ebenezer Scrooge.

Lord, keep the joy and goodwill in my heart all year.

The Manger: an unexpected adventure

December 25th, 2012 by Maureen

She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 2:7

A journey that began with an angelic announcement and the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit took an unexpected turn. In the course of the Christmas story Mary and Joseph faced relatives and townspeople who only saw an unwed pregnancy, had to travel in Mary’s ninth month, gave birth to the baby in a barn, and later had to flee the country. The first Christmas did not come neatly wrapped with a red bow on top and it’s likely this one won’t either.

Lord, help me embrace the crazy unexpected adventures this Christmas will bring.

Quite the baby shower

December 24th, 2012 by Maureen

[The Magi] bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matt. 2:11

Traditionally the gold indicates Jesus’ kingship, frankincense acknowledges His priesthood, and myrrh prefigures His death. In ancient times these were not only gifts for kings, but offerings to gods. Scholars believe that the third century B.C.E. king Seleucus II Callinicus offered these three gifts to the god Apollo. As worshippers of the one true God, we open our chests and offer up our hearts to Jesus our Priest and King.

Lord, I bow down and worship.

Light breaks on the broken

December 22nd, 2012 by Maureen

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78

Jesus, the Light of the world, offers peace to souls impacted by the lingering darkness. He makes His presence evident when the shadow of death falls. He guides, protects, illuminates, warms, and ignites us with His light.

Lord, for all of us with broken hearts and broken lives, living in darkened places in this broken world,  let Your light break upon us.

Pondering Christmas

December 20th, 2012 by Maureen

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19 (ESV)

Mary had no idea what was coming when she said “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be to me according to your word.” She had no idea what was coming when Simeon told her that her heart would be pierced. She had to wrap her mind around angels, shepherds, and mangers, not as someone else’s story but as the story she was living. Pondering our stories and treasuring our God moments prepares our hearts ready for whatever is coming next in our stories.

Lord, guide my pondering heart.

Flat head

December 20th, 2012 by Maureen

And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. Gen. 3:15

The unspeakable evil that strikes the human race is a result of the hostility the serpent has for us and for God. There is one, singular being, Jesus, who is equipped to counter this evil and crush the serpent’s head. The hope and joy of Christmas is that, because He loves us, the Messiah came to flatten the evil that strikes at our heels.

Lord, I am so grateful to be safe in Your care.

The thoughts of many hearts

December 19th, 2012 by Maureen

Simeon to Mary: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:33

The message, the person, and the implications of Jesus the Messiah does not fit human egos and agendas. His truth is twisted and resisted and His love and truth rejected.  Yet He opens His arms to forgive and heal and transform selfish hearts.

Lord, here is my heart, reveal my selfish thoughts and turn them to Your concerns.

Great expectations of Christmas

December 18th, 2012 by Maureen

[The prophetess Anna] came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. Luke 2:38

Not much is said in the Word about the reaction of those Anna told. Likely they were expecting a political or supernatural Messiah instead of this Baby in a manger. At Christmas many people place unrealistic expectations on traditions, presents, seasonal trappings, parties, and family gatherings to provide something that has to start in the Manger.

Lord, let everything about this Christmas start with Jesus.

Believing is seeing…eventually

December 17th, 2012 by Maureen

In the temple, holding Baby Jesus in his arms, Simeon said, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.” Luke 2:29-31

A promise thousands of years in the making was made tangible to a believer named Simeon in a temple in Jerusalem. He didn’t need an angel or a star to recognize Jesus as Messiah.  Simeon may seem like a bit player in a big story, but his role in the Christmas story is an inspiration to all who have not seen and yet believe.

Lord, there is so much I don’t know and can’t prove, but I believe… and look forward to seeing.

Goodwill toward us

December 16th, 2012 by Maureen

What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? Job 38:6-7

Perhaps the same stars that sang and the same angels that shouted when God created the world sang and shouted when Jesus was born in the manger and when He rose from the grave. In the midst of so much trouble God reminded Job that He has had things under control since He made the world…and His intentions for us made stars sing and angels rejoice.

Lord, help those who ask why to experience how wide, how wide, long, high, and deep Your love is for them.

Incomprehensible

December 15th, 2012 by Maureen

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

In the face of incomprehensible evil and undeniable darkness it is hard to focus on the light that still shines. Christ sends healers and comforters to bring light and peace that is even more incomprehensible and powerful than the darkness. We may not understand how, but our prayers and acts of comfort assault the darkness and carry Christ’s inextinguishable love, goodness, grace, and faithfulness into lives darkened by incomprehensible grief and pain.

Light of the world, I don’t understand but in this dark hour be close to the brokenhearted and rescue those whose spirits are crushed. Inspire and encourage those who comfort them.

More risk, more shine.

December 14th, 2012 by Maureen

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Is. 60:1

Christ came to bring light to those who walk in darkness. His light is designed to shine out of His followers. When His glory rises on us we can play it close and safe and keep the blinds closed so that all people can see is that the light is on; or we can arise, open up, and let His light flood out, which also means people can see in. It’s riskier, but shinier.

Lord, help me to be open so more light shines out.

Star of wonder

December 13th, 2012 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. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! Matt. 2:9

The star led the magi to Jesus. For the magi that same guiding light kept changing context yet remained a constant point of reference.The joy of seeing it was rekindled every time they looked at it. Our stars are the people, places, events, seasons or symbols that remind us of how our particular faith journeys began.

Lord, I rejoice again in the stars that led me to You!

Let’s go

December 12th, 2012 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

I love the shepherd’s reaction: “Messiah? In Bethlehem?  Let’s go!” They didn’t wait for their shepherding shift to end. They didn’t check in at home. They didn’t consult or research or discuss or plan or set expectations. They dropped everything and went because Jesus was there. Sometimes analysis paralysis keeps us from the spontaneous joy that comes with just going because Jesus is there.

Lord, I want to respond with spontaneous trust in You.

 

Congratulations, Mary. It’s a Messiah

December 11th, 2012 by Maureen

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. Luke 1:46

Certainly being chosen to be Jesus’ mother was an honor,  but when Mary uttered this song of praise the task was taking its toll on Mary’s relationship with her fiance and her standing in her community. Like Mary we can choose to embrace the absolute wonder of being chosen to participate in whatever God is doing or we can focus on the inconvenience. God still chooses to use individuals like each of us to bear His Son into the world He loves.

My soul magnifies the Lord!

No dime store Santa

December 10th, 2012 by Maureen

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6

Only Christ is equipped to give us counsel that changes our lives, to govern us as we are meant to be governed, and to bring us peace. Only Christ can provide for us and comfort us down to our deepest point of need. Looking elsewhere for what only God can provide is like expecting a diamond from a dime store Santa.

Lord, You sit on the throne of truth.