Archive for June, 2013

Rich on welfare Pt. Deux

June 30th, 2013 by Maureen

Blessed are the poor in Spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt. 5:3 (pt. 1)

Our poor spirits don’t just subsist on God’s provision but become rich because of our dependence on Him.  As citizens and heirs in this Kingdom He provides us with rich, satisfying, interesting lives that we neither earned nor created for ourselves. From the abundance of what He’s given us we return, rather than earn, blessing into His kingdom and into the spiritually impoverished world from which we came.

Lord, I am continually dependent on You.

I am a rich welfare recipient

June 29th, 2013 by Maureen

God blesses those who are poor [in spirit] and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Matt. 5:3

Being dependent takers who don’t work for what we get or negotiate our own terms flies in the face of the “American way” and is a hard idea to accept or practice. We are are like spiritual welfare recipients who can never earn enough bank or work our way out of our spiritually impoverished environment. Dependence is no trap to keep us poor, the more we recognize our need and simply take from Christ, the richer our spiritual lives become.

Jesus, gimme, gimme, gimme…what You want me to have.

Jesus was an ambler not a scrambler

June 28th, 2013 by Maureen

Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. Is. 30:15

Life is full of urgent dashes from emergency to emergency punctuated by periods of impatient waiting in which our heads fill up with plans and concerns. Even our “quiet time” can become noisy when prayer becomes 10 minutes of begging and arguing for our own agendas and Bible study means racing through chapters. To find rest and quiet we need to clear our schedules, clear our minds and let God and ourselves simply be.

Lord, help me to slow down.

Made in the shade

June 27th, 2013 by Maureen

I will be to [you] like a refreshing dew from heaven.  [You]  will again live under my shade. [You]  will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. [You]  will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. Hos. 14:5a, 7

The puny harvest we squeeze out beyond His shadow happens in drought conditions;  or we may build  hothouse churches and grow something that has has a fake, mass-produced quality about it. There is an honesty that feels organic and real in lives lived out in His shade. There we find authentic refreshment, nourishment, and growth.

Lord, thank You for desiring such beauty and hope for me.

No boundaries

June 26th, 2013 by Maureen

Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. Hos. 14:4

God knew we wouldn’t be able to white knuckle our way to good behavior or attitudes, or even faith. He sent Messiah so that we could be healed instead of judged; so Jesus makes the “then” in Hosea is “now” in 2013. His healing is not so that someday we will be fit to be loved by Him., instead His love has no boundaries. He knows and loves who we were then, who we are right now, and who we shall become.

Thank You for Your boundless love.

Exploding preconceptions

June 25th, 2013 by Ted

But the voice spoke [to Peter] again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” Acts 10:15

The story of Cornelius is told in Act 10. Before Cornelius even believed in Christ God made it clear to Peter that He had plans to redeem Cornelius. God blew Peter’s preconceived ideas about how Christians are supposed to look and act out of the water. Peter had to get over his legalism and accept Cornelius into the family of God as a brother who had been made clean and righteous by the cross.

Lord, help me let go of false preconceptions.

The great and scandalous exchange

June 24th, 2013 by Maureen

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on  our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21

If the first half of this verse is true, that Jesus really did become sin on behalf of each of us, then, is the second half of this verse not also true? Each individual believer becomes His righteousness. Our becoming righteous is as incongruous as Jesus becoming sin, but this is the great exchange. Jesus does both for us because we we can do neither for ourselves.

Lord, I accept, receive, embrace, and appreciate this unearned status: innocent and righteousness.

God has mad parenting skills

June 23rd, 2013 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

Each of us is a wanted child.  The unique inclusion of each one of us in His family causes the Father pleasure. And he knew He was adopting kids, not already well-mannered, well groomed,appropriately motivated adults. He loves being a hands-on parent walking each of us through our uniquely messy growing-up process.

Lord, thank you for being a loving and wise parent to this child.

Sing harmony in every key

June 20th, 2013 by Ted

May God who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Rom. 15:5

Harmony may not mean every believer agrees on every point of doctrine or how those things we agree about look like in practice. Harmony is agreement that God is love, that God is good, and that His love and goodness is bigger and wiser than any of us. Starting there we can find common ground and form loving relationships that can be mutually transforming.

Lord make me an instrument of harmony.

Not knowing is knowing something more

June 18th, 2013 by Maureen

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! I Cor. 13:9

Through scholarship, science, and philosophy we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us. We proceed based on what we think we know, and the more sure we are, the greater our confidence in our own decisions. The disconnects and contradictions reveal the inadequacies in our systems of knowledge and the enormity and completeness of God’s knowledge. In not knowing we experience more complete trust in Him.

Lord, increase both my trust and my understanding.

Famous last words

June 17th, 2013 by Maureen

The Gospels contain not one, but four perspectives on what we call “The Great Commission.”

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” Matt. 28:19

Jesus himself sent them out from east to west with the sacred and unfailing message of salvation that gives eternal life. Mk. 16:8  (shorter ver) Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15 (longer ver.)

“There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things…And now I will send the Holy Spirit..wait…” Luke 24:47-49

“Receive the Holy Spirit. if you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven”  Jn. 19:22-23 “feed my sheep”  Jn. 21:15,16,17

Lord, help me to communicate Your message of grace as it relates to obedience, eternity, forgiveness, and nurture of others. Help me to wait for Your Holy Spirit before I open my mouth.

Happy Father’s Day, Abba

June 16th, 2013 by Maureen

So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Luke 5:32

The Kingdom built on forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation originates with the Father. We sometimes project our “daddy issues” onto God the Father and think of Him as angry or distant, judgmental or disappointed. Jesus made it clear that seeing and hearing Him meant seeing and hearing the Father. Our Father is the same one who ran to greet the returning prodigal and threw a party to celebrate.
Happy Father’s Day, Abba!

Presence over performance

June 15th, 2013 by Maureen

You have shown me the way of life and You will fill me with the joy of Your presence. Ps. 16:11; Act 2:28

David wrote it, Peter quoted it, but living in full awareness of God’s presence is counterintuitive to our urge to perform and control. Our deliberate efforts, our reading plans, our volunteer work, our prayers and devotions can become something we make ourselves do rather than a response to His presence that honestly is our way of life. The joy of His presence comes from being with Him, of Him, and in Him.

Lord, fill me with the joy of Your presence.

Environmental consciousness for the state of grace

June 15th, 2013 by Maureen

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Ps. 32: 5

Christ has created a state of pristine grace where we can experience cleansing forgiveness and freedom to be who He has redeemed us to be. We pollute the environment of grace when we inflict guilt on ourselves and on one another. Free citizens of the state of grace are not supposed to be predators or chameleons but these mutations occur in us when fear and guilt corrupt our environment.

Show me how to contribute to an environment of grace.

 

He likes us, He really likes us

June 14th, 2013 by Maureen

The thief’s purpose is to kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. Jn. 10:10

Life is hardly rich or satisfying if we constantly feel God is there to point out our faults and punish us for them. A rich and satisfying life involves a relationship with our God in which we feel emotionally safe and experience His approval as well as His guidance. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so He could tolerate us for all eternity. God likes us and we make Him smile.

Lord, help me focus on being Your joy.

 

He’s so good, he’s so fine, he’s so healthy in his body and his mind

June 13th, 2013 by Maureen

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” Luke 5:31-32

We take our spiritual vitamins: read the Bible, go to church, pray, donate and volunteer and try to be, or at least appear, good and fine. We can become so immersed in maintaining our own spiritual health that we never leave the hospital, hardly know any sick people and completely forget what it felt like to need the Doctor – or to be able to admit our sickness in public.

O mighty Healer, though I am not completely healthy myself, show me how to participate in healing those who need Your doctoring.

 

Even more amazing

June 12th, 2013 by Maureen

Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, saying, “We have seen amazing things today!” Luke 5:25

As human beings we seek to duplicate the experience of amazement by visiting places and doing things that cause wonder and excitement. When we exercise our creativity we seek to inspire amazement in other people who experience our work. Perhaps we seek thrills and enjoy being amazed because we were created for wonder. There is no ordinary experience in Christ, He is continually amazing. I just don’t continually notice.

Lord, help me be more aware of all the amazing things there are to see today.

Such a deal

June 11th, 2013 by Maureen

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth your soul? Matt. 16:26

Life is full of tradeoffs. Every day we make decisions about what we are willing to invest and whether what we get out of it is worth the investment of our time, energy, and/or money. God decided that our souls are worth Jesus to Him. Whatever our perceived tradeoff might be, we are definitely getting the best end of this deal.

Lord, I really feel like I’m ripping You off here, but I am eternally grateful.

Putting words in my mouth

June 8th, 2013 by Maureen

But when you are arrested and stand trial, don’t worry in advance about what to say. Just say what God tells you at that time, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 16:11

Giving practiced, “Sunday school” or “apologetics class” answers to difficult, searching questions about life and God may not be the immediate message Christ has for those asking the questions. These souls are more important to Christ than they are to us and the Holy Spirit, more articulate than any of us could ever be. We are not responsible for Defending the Faith in every conversation. Our responsibility is to be available to the Holy Spirit to engage in conversations that communicate Christ’s love and grace to each individual.

Lord, please put words in my mouth.

The power of love

June 7th, 2013 by Maureen

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. Jn. 15:9-10

Jesus’ commandments were to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love is the compelling force in God’s existence as a Triune entity. Love is the motivating force for God’s plan of redemption. Love is the attracting force for revealing His plan to those who haven’t heard. Love is the binding agent that holds us together as His body.

Lord, show me how to obey love.