Archive for December, 2013

An anti-annunciation story

December 30th, 2013 by Maureen

[Hagar] said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” Gen.16:13

Hagar had just gotten news from the angel of God that was the opposite of Mary’s and Elizabeth’s. “Your kid is going to be in constant conflict with the people around him.” Yikes. Hagar herself was feeling her way through a situation she didn’t initiate… and not very well. But at that moment, she saw God and knew that He saw her. That experience was so amazing that her response was all about the messenger, and not so much about the message.

Even when I don’t understand and I’m doing everything wrong, I am so glad You see me and let me see You.

 

Spiritual antibodies

December 29th, 2013 by Maureen

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom 15:13

When a challenging, painful situation arises, hope, joy and peace rush like white blood cells to the source of pain. Sometimes our spirits become depleted. God is the source of these spiritual antibodies that our spirits cannot manufacture for themselves. Hope, joy, and peace build up in our spiritual immune systems as we commune with Him when we are not in crisis.

Every day, all the time, I trust you, Lord.

 

Feeling the way

December 28th, 2013 by Maureen

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘in him we live and move and have our being.’ – Acts 17:27-28

Paul quoted the words of the Greek poet Epimedes of Knossos who wrote a poem proposing some amazingly insightful truths about the nature of God and human existence. Paul focused on the truths in Epimedes statement rather than attacking his attribution of that truth to Zeus.

Lord, help me find common ground with those who are feeling their way toward You.

Question and answer

December 27th, 2013 by Maureen

Q. Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son? (Prov. 30:4)

A. Jesus. Before He was a Baby in a manger or a suffering Sacrifice on a cross or a triumphant resurrected Savior, Jesus was the glorious Lord of all Creation. Jesus doesn’t need anything from us. He is glorious without us and was glorious before people existed.

Thank you for answering my need by becoming the Baby, the Sacrifice, and the Savior. My response is praise and awe.

 

Believe

December 26th, 2013 by Maureen

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:10

Too often we look to ourselves and behave like apologetic refugees in His kingdom, when He came so we would look to Him and behave like sons and daughters with the run of the castle. Believe that Jesus is enough to forgive, reconcile, renew, restore and adopt us. Accept His sacrificial gift as enough not only change our status from “guilty” to “innocent” but from “alien” to “child.”

Lord, I don’t believe in me, but I do believe in You!

Good news of great joy

December 25th, 2013 by Maureen

After seeing Jesus, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.Luke 2:16-17

Imagine one of the shepherds going home and telling his family about his night. Imagine the story those guys told at the pub and at the synagogue. At Christmas families and friends gather to celebrate the same news of great joy the angels had for the shepherds. What a perfect time to tell our own manger stories- that time when we realized that the “tidings of great joy” was personal and would change everything forever. My manger story started when I was about 15.

Thank you for my own joyful Christmas story.

Peace and goodwill

December 24th, 2013 by Maureen

Glory in the highest to God, and earth peace, among men — good will.  Luke 2:14 (YLT)

We call it Christmas Spirit. We put it on cards and remember to wish it for one another. The angels announced God’s good will toward the world He made and for the people He made to live in it. His desire remains that we glorify Him and experience His peace.

Glory to You, O Lord, bring peace, help us to recognize Your goodwill and practice goodwill toward others.

 

 

Depends on who’s telling the story

December 23rd, 2013 by Maureen

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12

Jesus didn’t fit the Savior model the Jews were expecting. Their Messiah story called for a king, a warrior,  a superhero, or a recognizable deity who would change their earthly circumstances. Instead they got a baby in a manger. Some adjusted to the story He was telling, but others recast Him as villain, reinterpreted His message, or turned Him into a metaphor.

Lord, thank You for the manager, the cross, the empty tomb, and the rest of the story You are telling.

 

Off the rails

December 22nd, 2013 by Maureen

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Matt 1:20

Joseph was looking for a logical explanation for the strange turn his life was taking. Sometimes, out of nowhere, God does something unexpected and supernatural that challenges our presuppositions. No matter how off the rails the situation may seem, God will help us figure out the next move.

Lord, thank you for making it interesting…now what?

Giving is a grace

December 21st, 2013 by Maureen

Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love for us—I want you to excel also in this grace of  giving. 2 Cor. 8:7

Giving,  faith, speech, knowledge, joy, zeal, or love are graces that grow in our hearts and minds because Christ Himself is this way. Our responses to these Spirit inspired graces are a joyful anticipation of reconciliation and relationship with Him. We honor the Giver when giving is a response to grace rather than to obligation or pressure.

Let each gift I give this Christmas be an act of grace.

Gaining status

December 19th, 2013 by Maureen

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. Phil 2:6-7

Jesus didn’t live a perfect life on earth to earn divinity status. He already had it. Jesus chose to give up His status to recover ours. We are not here on earth to earn his love. We already have it. We choose good because He loves us not so He will love us.

Thank You, Jesus for coming to gain for me what I could not earn for myself.

Non-returnable, non-refundable, fully functional Christmas gift from Jesus, Himself

December 18th, 2013 by Maureen

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Jn. 14:27

Sometimes we receive a gift and never take it out of the box. Or perhaps, like the four blades I’ve never tried on my lovely food processor,  we use the gift without reading the directions or discovering everything it can do. Like all God’s gifts, this peace cannot be returned or exchanged but we can settle for less than full functionality.

Lord, thanks for the amazing gift of peace…now please help me figure out how this peace can become fully functional in my life.

The incredible lightness of Christmas

December 16th, 2013 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.

Completely booked

December 15th, 2013 by Maureen

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

It was the census season and Jerusalem was teeming with people. That poor innkeeper was probably swamped. The inn was full and he may have been so  preoccupied with all the business of the season that it never have occurred to him to say “use my room” instead of “there’s a stable out back.”

Lord, even when I’m really busy, help me to stop and respond with Your heart  instead of just doing what makes the problem go away the quickest.

Shouting stars

December 14th, 2013 by Maureen

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Ps. 19:1-4

The creation couldn’t keep its mouth shut. The Creator had become a creation. Since the beginning people all over the world had looked up at the stars and wondered, searching for explanations and truth. In the first light of dawn three ancient Persian Magi, students of the stars,  picked up on the message and responded.

Lord, help me to pick up on it when something unexpected points to You.

*I found some fascinating and very simply explained information on the Christmas Star at James Cooper’s site http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/star-of-bethlehem.shtml

 

O Come Immanuel

December 13th, 2013 by Maureen

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”). Matt. 1:23

Even when we wander far away, God, as He always has, uses every available means to let us know He is still with us and still wants us with Him. Even when don’t feel like He’s there, God is still with us and loves us just as much as He does in those moments when His presence feels absolutely tangible.  In John 17, before Jesus is crucified for us, the prayer He prays is about being with us and helping us know that He is always with us.

I rejoice, Immanuel, that You ransomed my captive soul and ended my lonely exile.

Pondering Christmas

December 12th, 2013 by Maureen

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 (NIV)

The initial impact of God being born as a baby complete with angelic announcements and worshipping magi must have been an amazing and joyful experience. Mary probably spent the rest of her life trying to wrap her head around that night as bits and pieces of its importance unfolded. Each Christmas offers each of us personal opportunities to treasure and ponder the significance of Jesus in our lives.

Lord, lead my pondering heart to a deeper, more personal understanding of You.

 

Birth of a revolution

December 11th, 2013 by Maureen

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jn. 1:14

The same Word who pre-existed creation and spoke it into existence came wrapped in the flesh and bone of an infant child. When he was born, even those who first recognized Him as Messiah didn’t know that He came to bring forgiveness and reconciliation.  Instead of a political or religious revolution, this baby began a revolution of grace.

O Lord, continue Your revolution of grace in the words of my mouth and the attitudes of my heart.

The Christmas story. Chapter 1.

December 9th, 2013 by Maureen

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Jn. 1:1-

Christ existed before the world began. God  loved the world before He ever made it and Jesus is the logos or divine expression of that love. The word logos implies not only the expression of an idea but the force that gives that idea meaning and purpose. God made His message of love tangible, intimate and personal in Jesus.

Lord, thank You for making You love for me so clear through Jesus.

Magnetic personality

December 8th, 2013 by Maureen

And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. John 12:32

Jesus’ act of sacrifice and redemption spiritually magnetized  all creation. Attractions changed. The  effect of the forces that impact us changed. The power of the repelling force of evil was diminished because Jesus is the more powerful force, the one that holds everything together.  His grace attracted us and it holds us even when we feel the pull of opposing forces. It continues to draw and attract.

Lord,  let the pull of your love and grace flow through me and attract those around me to You.