Archive for July, 2013

Transformation is not an improvement plan

July 31st, 2013 by Maureen

May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matt. 6:10

Jesus came to make us citizens of a kingdom that already exists in His loving unity with the Father and Spirit. His will isn’t that we pass a citizenship test for the kingdom of God based on dogma, but that we experience a transformative reconciliation to God in our spirits enacted by His grace. Our actions, attitudes, and choices as kingdom citizens are a reflection our spiritual transformation not our commitment to behavioral modification or continuous improvement.

Lord, may Your Kingdom be as real in my spirit and life as it is in Yours.

Our Father…

July 30th, 2013 by Maureen

Pray like this: Our Father in heaven may your name be kept holy. Matt 6:9

When Jesus introduced what we call the “Lord’s Prayer,” the first two words “our Father” were radical. Some of us, like Jesus’ earthly disciples, keep holding God at a formal distance and never enjoy Him as our “Abba, Father.” Some of us don’t know what it means to have a functional relationship with a father so we expect and receive less from our Heavenly Father than He wants to give us.

What would our prayers sound like if we approached them like a conversation with our perfect Dad?

 

 

Good deeds on the down low

July 29th, 2013 by Maureen

Don’t do your good deed publicly, to be admired by others…don’t blow trumpets and call attention to acts of charity…give your gifts in private and your Father, who sees everything will reward you.” Matt. 6:2-4

Publicity increases awareness that the need exists and often motivates others to join in and help too. If the motive for good deeds is that the need exists, not personal glory, then shout about the deed but let the doer keep a low profile. Deflect glory to Jesus and attention and respect to those in need.

Lord, let compassion be my motivation and knowing Christ better be my reward.

It’s just stuff

July 26th, 2013 by Maureen

Give to those who ask and don’t turn away those who want to borrow. Matt. 5:42

Last year Americans spent $1.13 trillion dollars on things that are categorized as “discretionary spending.” Things. we. don’t. actually. need. Americans spends $456.1 billion to protect our stuff and another $22 billion just to store stuff we aren’t using right now. It’s just stuff. It really won’t hurt to share. Buried somewhere in each of our “discretionary budgets” is the means to give at least a little. It really won’t hurt to give.

Lord, I want to be a giver rather than a consumer.

Relationship issues

July 25th, 2013 by Maureen

So if you are presenting a sacrifice to God in the Temple and remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice and go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matt. 5:23

Tension and unresolved issues in relationships matter. We may not even realize how much we carry relationship issues in our spirits and how they effect communication with God and everyone else. Reconciliation is the work of Christ. He not only came to reconcile us to Himself but acts as a reconciling force in all our relationships.

Lord, lead me toward reconciliation within myself and outward towards others.

Perfectionism

July 24th, 2013 by Maureen

You have heard the law that says “love your neighbor,” but I say love your enemies!…In that way you will be acting as true children of you Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good… If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? But you are to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matt. 5:44-48

Jesus seems to be connecting “perfection” with how we love and who we love. What would happen if we directed any perfectionistic compulsions toward making each person we encounter feel loved? Our lives would get a lot messier, and maybe even look less “perfect,” but our hearts might look a lot more like His.

Lord, lead me to love like You do.

 

What a releif

July 23rd, 2013 by Maureen

Unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt. 5:20

Right before this Jesus proves that our obedience to the Old Testament law is inadequate and right after He equates attitudes with actions (if you are angry you commit murder). Controlling thoughts and attitudes is even harder than controlling behavior, but Jesus is not introducing new laws for us to fail to keep, instead He is establishing our need for His righteousness. The Kingdom of Heaven is His gift not our reward for being good.

Lord, I am so relieved.

 

 

Untangling legalese

July 22nd, 2013 by Maureen

I did not come to abolish God’s law or the law of Moses, but to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is accomplished. Matt. 5:17-18

Jesus spoke these words regarding Himself and not us. Not one of us is capable of obeying every small detail of the law, nor are we capable of accomplishing God’s purposes. Rather than binding ourselves to the law and becoming try-hards who keep failing at keeping the law, we can be bound to Christ who succeeds for us.

Lord, I am grateful.

Amusing vacay

July 20th, 2013 by Maureen

I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. Ps.77:12 (NAS)

It is in considering God’s works that we find inspiration for our own. It is in meditating on His work that we appropriately prioritize our work. It is in getting away from our work, forgetting it completely and becoming lost in His that we become all we need to be when we do return to our work. Musing on the works of the Creator enhances creativity and refreshes abilities.

Lord, thank you for vacations.

When nature starts singing

July 18th, 2013 by Maureen

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds, you mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings and nations, princes and rulers, men and women and children. Ps.148:7-12

It lifts the spirit to see praise on the face of a fellow worshipper. If we are listening and looking for it, it may not be that much of a stretch to hear a song of praise coming from His creation itself.

Lord, let Your name be exalted in all the earth.

Ongoing, everyday miracle

July 14th, 2013 by Maureen
The news about his miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see him. Mark 3:8b

While on vacation in Seattle I stood on an observation deck for whale watching. I didn’t see any whales and might have walked away disappointed, but the amazing beauty of the place I was standing was enough. Surrounded by water, mountains, trees, in that cool morning moment I let myself be filled with awe. Seeing a miracle is remarkable, but the presence of Christ Himself is a greater miracle than anything He might do.

Thank you, Jesus for reminding me that You are the constant miracle in my life.

This little light of mine

July 12th, 2013 by Maureen

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Matt. 5:15a

The Holy Spirit provides task lighting. He is the precision laser, the industrial lighting, the X-ray, while we are more like floor lamps, providing general illumination for everyday life. It might be easier to come out from under the basket if we recognize we are just supposed to shine and let the Holy Spirit figure out where to aim.

Place me somewhere that needs brightening up and then cause me to shine.

Keeper of the flame

July 11th, 2013 by Maureen

You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matt. 5:14

Jesus calls Himself the light of the world, too. It is through His followers, His church, that Jesus chose to keep shining His light on the world. From our very public hilltop the church has botched being light  – usually because we’ve tried to imitate His light or start the fire ourselves. Jesus is the keeper of the flame and won’t let His light be hidden or His reflection be distorted. When He reignites the fires and polishes the mirrors it’s been called revival, awakening, even revolution.

Lord, be the origin of all light that is visible from Your church.

Ocean water and dead seas

July 9th, 2013 by Maureen

But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. Matt. 5: 13b

It is scientifically impossible for real salt – sodium chloride- to stop tasting salty. All the water in the ocean can’t dilute the salty taste. The salty taste in seasonings made from the Dead Sea can actually lose flavor because Dead Sea “salt” is not primarily sodium chloride. Christ alters the chemical compound of our spirits. If Christ is the source, then we are real salt, even if the holes in the shaker get clogged up now and then.

Lord, help me to be genuine.

Sprinklings of salt

July 8th, 2013 by Maureen

You are the salt of the earth. Matt 5:13a

The “salt of the earth” is an idiom for a person who is reliable, unpretentious, honest, and kind. From ancient times salt has acted as a preservative and flavor enhancer, and it’s reasonable to consider our presence in culture in terms of that metaphor. Placement of this phrase right after the nine Beatitudes might be significant in trying to figure out how to be salt in culture.

Lord let the salt that falls from my shaker provide a taste of Your kingdom, comfort, justice, and mercy with an attitude of humility, patience, and purity of heart.

No need to get huffy

July 7th, 2013 by Maureen

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. Matt. 5:11-12 (NEV)

The public failures and stupid comments of a few Christians are transferred onto all of us. Getting angry and taking offense is understandable, but it’s important to be honest about whether or not our discomfort is “on account of Christ” or due to our own ( or others’) mishandling of a situation. Also, given the voracity of religious persecution in other countries and the legitimate misconceptions about our beliefs here in America, we should reconsider crying “persecution” over simple inconvenience or discomfort. If the insult is indeed directed toward Christ then the love and grace with which He responded to His own persecution sets the standard for us.

Lord, help me to be gracious instead of taking offense.

The gospel of peace

July 6th, 2013 by Maureen

Blessed are those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Matt. 5:9

Those who work to reconcile friends, families, individuals or groups with social, political, ideological, ethnic or other differences reveal aspects of God’s own reconciling nature. He is the ultimate peacemaker. The gospel of peace tells us that Christ reconciles us to God through the cross. So now our spirits are at peace with Him while our bodies and minds are still experiencing ongoing transforming reconciliation to His nature.

Lord, help me to take Your gospel of peace into my relationships with others.

 

 

 

Eclipse of the heart

July 5th, 2013 by Maureen

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Mat. 5:8

Pure hearts have pure motives. Like the shadow of the moon blocks the sun in an eclipse, what we want, what we think God wants, and what we want God to want often eclipses our ability to fully see the Light of the world as He truly is. When our motives are fearful or selfish it is difficult to approach our relationships, our tasks, or even our prayers with pure hearts. We only see God around the edges of the shadow our motives impose.

Lord, help me be honest with myself about my motives. Give me a pure heart.

Declaration of mercy

July 4th, 2013 by Maureen

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matt. 5:7

Independence gives us the freedom to make our own choices, and our own mistakes. With independences comes justice and responsibility that says we pay our own way and bear our own consequences. Mercy runs counter to independence. Mercy is not something we pursue or earn for ourselves. It’s not even a right we deserve. We can’t vote on it for ourselves or legislate it for others. If fact, the only one we can be sure will give it when we ask is Christ.

Lord, show me mercy and help me to show mercy.

So righteous

July 3rd, 2013 by Maureen

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice [righteousness NAS, NIV] for they will be satisfied [filled NIV].

We can always find someone “worse” than ourselves or some heinous injustice to oppose that may heighten the sense of being righteous and just in and of ourselves. That kind of comparative posturing leads to condemnation and judgement. Soul-level satisfaction and confidence that we are indeed righteous comes from receiving and communicating Christ’s righteousness demonstrated in the power of the cross, the celebration of communion, and the sufficiency of His grace.

Lord fill me with Your righteousness and justice.