Archive for November, 2013

Trading success stories

November 30th, 2013 by Maureen

But Jesus said, “No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.” Mark 5:19

For some reason holidays can create unrealistic pressures and expectations that make it impossible to actually celebrate the season or the relationships that cause us to gather. Some families do performance reviews. Some do guilt trips. Some do  “events.” Some write those “ain’t we great” holiday letters. The best gatherings are the ones that simply let His continually transforming mercy and redemption be the success story we tell about ourselves and the one we celebrate in those we love.

Lord, I want to celebrate Your goodness with my loved ones all season long.

 

 

 

 

Tis the season to be thankful

November 28th, 2013 by Maureen

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. Col. 2:16

I feel like I’m cheating on Thanksgiving if I put up Christmas decorations or buy gifts before celebrating Thanksgiving. As a holiday, I love Thanksgiving and hate to see it upstaged by it’s flashier cousin. And now it looks like some poor souls will be working Thanksgiving night so Black Friday can start even earlier. But I’m not judging anyone who starts Christmas early. Thanksgiving  is an attitude more than it is a holiday. Celebrating Christ, spreading love and joy, giving gifts are all ways to express thanks through the whole season.

Lord, keep me in this cycle of thankfulness.

What was Jesus thankful for?

November 27th, 2013 by Maureen

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way. Luke 10:21

Jesus was thankful that God chose the childlike to receive His message instead of overly confident strategists,  jaded intellectuals, or proud academics. That had to make his job easier…and more fun. I am thankful for open-minds and open hearts, for those still capable of wonder and delight, for the childlike among us and for those who long to shed the guarded facade that disappointment and disillusionment has erected around them and be childlike again.

Lord, reawaken the child in us.

Thanksgiving communion

November 26th, 2013 by Maureen

He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” Luke 22:19

At the Last Supper Jesus gave thanks that He could give His body and blood to redeem us. Thanksgiving is more than a time to acknowledge what we have been given; it is also a time to give thanks for what we have the opportunity to give. Give thanks for each chance to share resources with others. Give thanks for each chance  to speak His grace, forgiveness, and redemption into the world. Give thanks when giving requires personal sacrifice of some kind. Perhaps giving of ourselves is a practice of communion the way taking bread and wine is a symbolic observance of it.

Thank you, Lord.

Holiday stretch

November 26th, 2013 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.

(This is a repost from last year.)

Live in love

November 24th, 2013 by Maureen

[I pray] that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19 (NET)

The encompassing love of Christ is the environment in which we as believers live, not just those who are good enough or deserve it or are chosen for it, but all the saints are meant to comprehend the love of Christ.

Thanks for Your love.

 

Come to the table

November 23rd, 2013 by Maureen

Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquetin the Kingdom of God!” Luke 14:15

Jesus used meals as a time to include, to teach, and to nourish. He ate with everyone who invited him and performed miracles so everyone with him could eat. He keeps adding leaves to His table and extending His family so we all can sit at the big table with Him.

Lord, thanks for making a place at Your table for me. Let my table be a place of love and laughter, grace and acceptance.

Home for the holidays

November 22nd, 2013 by Maureen

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

The time around the holidays can be especially hard when we miss our loved ones. As we feel the tug of eternity, through empty places at the table and traditions changed because of loss, we can be thankful for this hope: Jesus has marked the road home with signs of His grace. He has a room waiting and has set us a place at the table…right next to the ones we are missing.

Lord, keep my heart homeward bound.

 

Present and thankful

November 21st, 2013 by Maureen

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Phil. 4:11-12

Sometimes it’s not the need itself that creates discontent, it’s the tendency to focus on those things we think are missing from our lives. When we actively appreciate the present, just as it is, we enjoy our lives more and we tend to give and share more freely. Contentment and thankfulness feed off one another.

Lord, thank you for all I have right now. Period.

 

Intangible abundance

November 19th, 2013 by Maureen

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. Jn. 1:16

Every blessing we have is a result of grace and God is the source. Those moments of connectedness, peace and joy we experience through relationship with God and others are often the most gracious and impactful blessings. This Thanksgiving we can celebrate the intangible abundance God supplies.

Thank you for this day and the one-after-another blessings you’ve placed in it.

 

YOLO faithfully

November 18th, 2013 by Maureen

The meat of the peace offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the same day it is offered. None of it may be saved for the next morning. Lev. 7:15

It’s not wasteful or short sighted to give everything and live with full abandon; it ‘s trusting and recognizing His faithfulness. Like these Hebrews’ peace offering or the woman who poured out all her perfume on Jesus feet, go ahead, use it all up. Suck out all the marrow. Thrive in each moment. Leave it all on the field. Thankful living means we can’t be stingy with our selves.

Lord, every blessing You pour out, I turn back to praise.

Lord has mercy (not a typo)

November 17th, 2013 by Maureen

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Rom. 11:32

“All” is about as inclusive as it gets. We fall short of His glory and need His merciful restoration. Mercy is God’s motivation. Any sense of separation from Him, uneasy conscience, moral guilt, or desire to hide that we experience can serve as motivation to fall into His mercy rather than to fear being found out. God already knows and all the rest of us have no place to judge. We all need the same thing.

Lord thank you for Your mercy.

A series of small journeys

November 16th, 2013 by Maureen

You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. Ps. 139:2

Our lives are a series of small journeys and each time we stand up to leave on a new one, God knows about it. We  set goals and achieve them. We go on adventures of discovery. We overcome obstacles and learn lessons. We pick up companions and mentors along the way. We meet opposition. We often leave something of ourselves behind and return with new treasures.  Often it is only after we return to sit and reflect on where we’ve been that we see the Father’s pen dripping with the grace and wisdom He’s been writing into our lives.

Thank You for staying with me on each journey, even when I feel far away.

Jesus actually was a great teacher

November 15th, 2013 by Maureen

The disciples asked Jesus “How did the fig tree wither…” “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree…”Matt. 21:20 “Listen and try to understand.”Matt. 15;10  Once again crowds gathered around him, and as usual he was teaching them. Mark 10:1 Jesus asked “But what do you think about this?” Matt. 21:28 As they discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. Luke 24:15

Jesus used illustrations, questioning, discussion, and lecture to get His point across. He didn’t just tell his disciples, He showed them. He let them try and asked them to  apply the ideas He taught to different contexts. He took advantage of teachable moments and turned their informal discussions into learning experiences. Plus He loved them.

Lord, teach me to teach.

Circumstances surrounding thankfulness

November 14th, 2013 by Maureen

Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God concerning you. 1 Thess. 5:18

It would be really sadistic to ask us to smile and call pain and evil good. We can be thankful for God’s comfort, peace, and guidance. We can be thankful that He can make all things work together for good. But we aren’t obliged to be thankful for painful circumstances themselves. Our honest responses to troubles, our willingness to admit pain and need opens us to the kind of responses from God and others that will make us truly thankful.

Lord, help me to be appropriately thankful for every circumstance.

 

Celebrate

November 13th, 2013 by Maureen

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matt. 22:23

The ability to delay gratification is certainly important but it’s not necessary to wait until some ultimate goal has been achieved before celebrating achievements. Taking time to acknowledge and celebrate everyday victories keeps us living in the present. Small milestones are worth a party.

Lord, thank you for all there is to celebrate every single day.

Thoughts on those “Seriously, God?” moments

November 12th, 2013 by Maureen

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” John 13:7

Every single believer is going to have some “Seriously, God?” moments. We may repeat that  faith mantra everyone says when they don’t understand: “everything happens for a reason.” God’s work  in our lives always makes some kind of redemptive sense.  If we keep looking for patterns and themes in the story He is writing with our lives and connect the dots that God leaves when He puts His finger on our lives we may begin to understand, at least a little bit. Jesus knew that understanding would strengthen Peter later on and wanted that for him.

Lord, give me insight into connecting these seemingly random and somewhat inconveniently placed dots.

 

America, America, God shed His grace on thee

November 11th, 2013 by Maureen

Most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though some might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Rom. 5:7-8

Christ laid down His life to gain and preserve our spiritual citizenship when we were unworthy of it; our veterans lay down their lives for an imperfect nation. Honor those who have fought and died for us while we are still broken in so many ways as a nation. Pray that the principles and practices that define us as citizens of America be worthy of their sacrifice.

Lord, make us a nation that seeks justice, liberty, grace, and peace.

Reasonable minds can lovingly, respectfully, peaceably disagree

November 10th, 2013 by Maureen

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. Rom 14:1.

Paul’s advice here shouldn’t become an excuse to avoid engaging in dialog about ourselves and what we believe. To label those we disagree with as “weak” or “unenlightened” because their opinions differ from our own seems a tad bit condescending. They may be saying the same thing about us. Acceptance means we love one another, listen to one another, consider one another’s opinions, and stop letting differences isolate us from one another even when we don’t land on the same page.

Lord, take away pride, fear, and offense and help us love one another.

Is this the age of the chronically offended?

November 9th, 2013 by Maureen

An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars. Prov. 18:19

Seems like anything we do can hit another person’s hot button. Willingness to befriend another human is read as an endorsement of every position that person holds. Voicing disagreement on a single issue gets labelled hate or heresy. We can read insult into the tone, wording, method of communication…pretty much anything, and take offense. Truth is more than correct doctrine or factual accuracy. Jesus is the truth and the door. Truth is supposed to set us free to experience love and grace rather than offense.

Lord, open the doors of my heart and mind in communication with others.