Archive for September, 2013

First and greatest priority

September 30th, 2013 by Maureen

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matt. 22:37-38

Loving God is more than doing and obeying. It is emotional, spiritual, and intellectual connection with the Father, the Maker, the Redeemer, the Spirit who is the IAM. It is intimate relationship, trust, genuine affection, personal response, conversation, constant awareness to the One who loves us more than we are capable of loving anyone or anything. Love is a desire-driven response rather than a fear-driven response.

I love You, Lord.

 

Tossing mountains

September 29th, 2013 by Ted

I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, “May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea, ” and it will happen. Matt 21:21

If only people were as easy to lift as mountains. So often the doubts we experience in our prayers for other people aren’t based on our faith in God but in our doubts about those we pray for and our doubts about God’s methods of intervention. The Holy Spirit is strong enough, truthful enough, and loving enough to lift the mountains and sin, shame, and sorrow in our lives and throw them into His sea of forgetfulness.

Lord, give me faith that tosses mountains.

Pardon the interruption

September 27th, 2013 by Maureen

Blind guys: Lord, have mercy on us
Crowd: Be quiet
Jesus: What do you want me to do for you?
Blind guys: We want to see.
Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see. Then they followed him.

The blind men we willing to take the scorn of the crowd. They didn’t mind being pitied. Their need was so great that pride didn’t matter anymore. Jesus compassion was so great He interrupted His teaching and redirected his focus on two blind guys crying for mercy. Our desperate cries matter to Him, too.

Lord, thanks for letting me interrupt. Help me respond to others’ interrupting needs with Your compassion and grace.

Non-competitive Christianity

September 26th, 2013 by Maureen

The Kingdom of heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. Matt. 20:1

The story goes on to explain that he hired workers at 9AM, noon, 3PM and  5PM. At the end of the day he paid everyone the same wage. This upset those who were hired early. It’s not about reward or status or who believed first or who has followed Him longest. It’s not even about the work itself. It’s about being invited to work in His vineyard where work is joy and co-workers are family.

Lord, I am so grateful You called me into Your vineyard.

Significant others

September 25th, 2013 by Maureen

But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. Matt. 19:30

We measure with broken sticks. We assign arbitrary importance to attributes that are of no eternal consequence and fail to recognize the unique ways Christ manifests Himself in others. At the cross God set the value of every human being as the same. The same nails, the same blood, the same Savior paid for each of us. Everyone is significant to God and therefore significant to us.

Lord, help me to see others through Your eyes.

Impossibly good possibilities

September 24th, 2013 by Maureen

Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible. Matt 19:26

God is can do anything He wants. It comes with the gig. Fortunately He is motivated by love, acts out of a nature rooted in love, goodness and holiness with a vision of a Kingdom built on the principles of restoration, provision, wholeness, and peace.

Lord, thanks for making impossible things possible and for a relationship with You in which we dare ask the impossible.

Not worth it

September 23rd, 2013 by Maureen

Jesus: If you want to be perfect, go sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Them come follow me.

But when the young man heard this He went away sorrowing for he had many possessions. Matt. 19:21-22

Money was the thing the rich young man treasured. Someone else might have no problem letting go of money or possessions but continue to cling to certain habits, philosophies, desires, specific possessions, even people. Turning all we treasure over to be used for God’s purposes is no easy ask. Jesus wasn’t trying to make it easy.

Lord, help me loosen my grip on my treasure. Take it for Your use. Nothing I treasure is worth the greater things You have for me.

Hurt

September 22nd, 2013 by Maureen

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Ps. 34: 18

On the worst day, when the hurt is so heavy it’s hard to keep standing, when the dark feels like it’s closing in and hope takes impossible effort, Sunday school platitudes won’t cut it. Our honest, battered spirits cry out for comfort. Blinded by tears we grope for answers. Sometimes faith wavers in the waiting. Our good Christian masks begin to peel. And all we can do is fall helplessly on our faces and remember that what we know is as true on the worst day as it is on the best: God is good. God loves us more than we love ourselves. God can be trusted with our worst days.

Lord, be close. Heal. Comfort. Rescue. Restore.

Stop counting before 490

September 21st, 2013 by Maureen

Peter: Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?

Jesus: No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!   Matt 18:21-22

Does that mean that after 490 days or hours or minutes revenge or grudges become permissible? Perhaps His point is that repetition forms habits and forgiving 490 times creates a spiritual muscle memory to a forgiving response? I suspect the desire to default to forgiveness will cause us to lose count long before we get to 490.

Lord, thanks for sharing Your grace with me so that I have the capacity to forgive.

We gather together…

September 19th, 2013 by Maureen

For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. Matt. 18:20

Jesus is always with us but something distinct happens when He is our purpose for gathering. Even very small groups become His prevailing church. We have the power to manifest His love, grace, and hope into our environments. We push back spiritual darkness and ignite His light both in the world around us and within the spirits of the individuals gathered.

Lord, whatever our secondary purposes may be for gathering together, help us to remember our primary purpose.

Agreements

September 18th, 2013 by Maureen

I tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Matt 18:19

We’ve all been part of these agreement prayers and never saw the answer we expected. This doesn’t mean prayer doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean prayer is a magic formula and we did it wrong. It doesn’t mean our concerns are not important to God. No matter the outcome, no matter how we prayed, trust remains our first agreement.

Lord, I ask You to do it. I also trust You enough not to measure You love, power, or wisdom by the response I think I see.

Togetherness

September 17th, 2013 by Maureen

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Cor 13:14

God the Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit all manifest good toward us. Each member of the Triune Godhead informs what we believe about ourselves and encourages how we interact with other people. All are love and through Them and in Them we are made to experience authentic love, grace, and fellowship together.

 Lord, thank you for this togetherness I have with all those You have put into my life.

All who wander are not permanently lost

September 16th, 2013 by Maureen

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away…In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish. Matt. 18:12-14.

God loves each one of His human creations and wants all of us to love Him back. His will is to redeem and restore each one of us. Our approach to other people – even – and maybe especially – those who wander – should reflect His restorative will for them. It’s not our place to write off anybody.

Lord fill me with grace and love and hope for those who wander.

What would Jesus do?

September 15th, 2013 by Maureen

This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. I Jn. 2:7b-8

We can’t apply metrics and assess progress to love.  Complying to a list of “thou shalt not’s” is much easier to measure. We can try to assess behaviors and communication that seem to imply love, but we can’t honestly know one another’s motives. Jesus is our best metric for what love looks like.

Lord, permeate my attitudes, my responses, and my motives.

Faithful to what?

September 14th, 2013 by Maureen

Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old. Matt. 13:52

Jesus came with new gems which the teachers of religious law resisted. Jesus came to transform us; and that implies change.  Are we brave enough to consider our motives for holding specific passages of scripture or historically held doctrines like “old gems?” Is it faithfulness to God or faithfulness to the status quo? Are we invested in Jesus’ Kingdom or in an existing agenda?

Lord, I want to cooperate with whatever transforming change You want to make in my thinking or attitude.

It works both ways

September 12th, 2013 by Maureen
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough to money to buy the field. Matt. 13:44
I’ve always understood this parable to mean that belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven is worth whatever sacrifice we have to make. But looking at it another way, Jesus paid the ultimate price in order to establish His Kingdom. That would make us the exciting and valuable treasure to Jesus. It works both ways.
Lord, I am awed to be so dearly loved and highly valued by You.

On the rise

September 11th, 2013 by Maureen

The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough. Matt. 13:33

We are not Sunday visitors in God’s kingdom. Our personal and business relationships and practices are influenced by who we are as heirs and citizens of God’s kingdom. Bread takes time to rise. Even when we feel flat, the yeast is working.

Thank you for working in my life every day.

Keep calm and have faith

September 10th, 2013 by Maureen

“Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Matt. 8:25-26

Interesting that Jesus doesn’t reference resources or talents. Though the disciples acknowledge God’s power, though they loudly and desperately ask for His help – kind of like a prayer – Jesus calls them on their faith. Jesus was right there asleep on the boat with them when the storm came up, yet they panicked.

Lord, help me to respond to Your presence instead of the storm.

Loose ends and scattered ducks

September 9th, 2013 by Maureen

Another of His disciples said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me now. Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead.” Matt. 8:18

There is never a perfect moment to commit. Ducks have a way of wandering off the row. Every day is full of loose ends and demanding circumstances. Jesus is not Somebody that can be pencilled into a schedule. He sets the schedule. He is the schedule.

Lord, I follow You now with all the loose ends and scattered ducks of my life streaming along behind me!

Big bodacious prayers

September 6th, 2013 by Maureen

I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge again, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:24-25

Unless Jesus is speaking in non-sequiturs, forgiveness as well as faith is linked to answered prayer. The power of grace means that our redemption and restoration is a present truth rather than a future hope. Even in the face of our fallible and inconsistent selves our prayers contain the power of Christ’s grace. And that can move mountains.

Lord, here’s my big ask…