Archive for January, 2014

TGIF morning

January 31st, 2014 by Maureen

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand Zech. 4:10

Every morning for millennia people have gotten up with plans and agendas, often struggling with obstacles and motivation in order to accomplish them. Few of our tasks will have long term historical significance. Some may help to reveal God to someone who needs to see Him. Though most of the things we have to do may only matter in the moment, doing these little things with care does somehow matter.

Lord, help me delight in the beginning of each day’s work, even Friday.

 

 

99 party animals

January 30th, 2014 by Maureen

‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns than ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed. Luke 15:6b-7

The other ninety-nine may not see the point of rejoicing, thinking, “The fool wandered off and came home messy.” It is not up to the ninety-nine to clean up the returning sheep or to decide whether his return is worth celebrating. Heaven rejoices now and joining the party is way more fun than second guessing God on what’s fair.

Lord, without reservation or judgment, I rejoice and welcome whoever you bring home.

 

Squander your snow day

January 28th, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31a

Snow days create an unexpected, unplanned day to rest.  The concept that we are always supposed to be contributing, improving and producing can causes exhaustion and guilt. If today is a snow day for you,  take a little bit of this oasis of time to so something you like to do just because you like to to it. Do something you liked to do as a kid. Play scrabble or Mario. Shamelessly watch cat videos. Pull out the crayons and color.

Lord, thanks for a snow day!

 

God comes with a safety warning

January 27th, 2014 by Maureen

He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Ps. 18:2b

God’s love and grace are safe. Our redeemed souls are safe. But trusting Him may threaten our personal security. Our plans are not safe. Our status quo is not safe. The baggage we carry from our past is not safe. None of our possessions are safe. Our emotional crutches are not safe. Our comfort is not safe. He will keep giving these a tug now and then to see if we’re willing to replace safe and familiar  with the kind of adventurous life that requires shields and power.

Lord, keep tugging, even when I’m not ready to let go.

Crazy visionary Jesus

January 26th, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus said to them, `Come after me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17 (TMB)

It may have sounded like crazy talk to a couple of fishermen but Peter and Andrew were in. Their vision for their lives was limited to what they could imagine: decent careers, fulfilling family life, and being good little law-abiding Jews. Jesus presented them with a bigger, more radical vision for who they were and what they would do. They spent the rest of their lives being the fishermen He envisioned.

Lord, forget my vision, make me become whatever You envision for me.

 

Transformation isn’t for clones

January 25th, 2014 by Maureen

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Rom 12:12

Groups of humans, sometimes even the group called the church, create hierarchies, assign value, and establish ideals; then reward members of the group who meet performance standards. Because we want to do the right thing and to be accepted and respected, we each try to look like this generic ideal of a “Christian.” This is called conformity. Transformation is something much more unique and personal.

Lord, thank You for helping me discover and become my transformed self.

Iced from the start

January 24th, 2014 by Maureen

He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; Dan. 2:21

There is nothing like driving on ice to instill a little humility and respect for forces we can’t control. Even the best drivers can’t control the surface of the road or the decisions of other drivers. When we understand that we can begin to make better decisions about driving on ice, and a lot of other things too. If we think we can control everything, we’re iced from the start.

Lord, I know I can’t control everything…I trust You with that.

 

The welcome we receive at every start

January 23rd, 2014 by Maureen

Why are you frightened? Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Luke 24:38-39

Jesus reassured the disciples that He really was risen. He really was the same friend they had travelled with for three years. No matter what we’ve done, how long it’s been since we’ve seen Him, how separated by our feelings of guilt and shame, He shows us His hands and feet and tells us not to be afraid to run to Him or doubt that He will receive us with open arms.

Thank You for Your open arms

 

Jesus doesn’t write in ink

January 22nd, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. Jn. 21:25

John ended his book about Jesus with these words. Now the world is filled with walking books filled with accounts of His amazing deeds and message. Each of our lives are stories of grace and restoration still being written.

Lord, whenever I reflect on my life, help me to see the story You are telling.

Encouraging friends keep encouraging friends

January 21st, 2014 by Maureen

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. Rom. 1:12

Every one of us needs at least one friend who knows our redemption story, who believes in the grace on which we fall and sees our rough patches for what they are, and who literally become a refuge when we feel vulnerable and exposed. We all need to be treasured. Experiencing trust in a relationship with someone we can see makes trusting Christ, who we can’t see, a more tangible experience.

Lord, thank you for the kind of encouragement that makes faith grow.

 

Aim the spotlight at the solution, not the problem

January 19th, 2014 by Maureen

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].  I Pet. 4:8 (Amplified)

Just as God’s love is the driving force for forgiving, reconciling, and restoring us, our love for one another is the force for restoration and reconciliation within the church. When we choose where focus our attention, too often sin and behavior gets the spotlight. What would happen if we aimed our attention spotlights on love instead?

Lord, help me to pay more attention to love than I do to offenses and failures.

I believe, help my unbelief

January 18th, 2014 by Maureen

Desperate parent: Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.
Jesus: What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Desperate parent: I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!  Mark 9: 23-24

We doubt based on past experiences when things didn’t work out the way we prayed…based on our own internal dialog about God or the need itself…based on our theological leanings regarding what God expects from us in return for His answers. We doubt because… (fill in the blank)____. God is not only the One who supplies the need; He’s also the one who supplies the faith.

Lord, I have no faith in my own belief, but I believe in You, so here goes…

Mad respect for Barnabas

January 17th, 2014 by Maureen

Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Acts 15:39

Apparently John Mark messed up badly enough that Paul didn’t want him involved in his ministry anymore, but Barnabas wasn’t ready to write off John Mark. In Paul’s later letters he expresses confidence in John Mark. Where would John Mark have ended up if Barnabas hadn’t left his important work to hang out with him? Restoration sometimes takes an investment that others won’t understand or accept.

Lord, help me encourage and restore those who feel written off.

Who is responsible?

January 16th, 2014 by Maureen

He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. Prov. 16:20

Life is a long series of little choices in which we each decide how to process what just happened, how to deal with what’s coming at us right now, and how to plan for what might be next. How we handle our responsibilities might bring satisfaction, reduce aggravation and increase the good we are able to do, but deciding to trust God’s love and wisdom brings happiness and freedom.

Lord, I trust You with what I can’t control and especially with what I can.

Choosing the default

January 14th, 2014 by Maureen

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Rom 5:5

Focus on our own fears, frustrations, disappointment, and unmet desires – basically on our selves – may seem like an inescapable default setting. But we do have a choice. The Holy Spirit speaks into our hearts: that He loves us and that we matter and we can choose to think about that and process what is happening to us through that lens.

Lord, change my default setting from disappointment to hope.

The jury is in

January 13th, 2014 by Maureen

Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Rom. 5:1

That moment in a courtroom before the jury’s decision is announced is incredibly tense, especially for the defendant. Faith in Christ means the jury is in and the verdict for us is “not guilty.” Whatever we’ve done, whatever guilt we may still feel, Jesus took the fall. He didn’t do that so we’d keep feeling guilty; He did it to bring us peace and restoration.

Lord, help me live in the peace You give.

 

 

It’s all You, Jesus

January 12th, 2014 by Maureen

This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” Rom. 1:17

Faith doesn’t mean believing harder or working harder or studying harder. Faith means trusting that what Jesus did for us is enough to make us righteous and bring our spirits to life. Faith means trusting that His grace continues to be all we need through every detour and new start our lives take.

Gracious Jesus, thank You!

Pour one out for Jesus

January 10th, 2014 by Maureen

While [Jesus] was eating a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume…and poured the perfume over his head. When some at the table asked “Why waste such expensive perfume when we could have sold it and given the money to poor?” Jesus answered “She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial…wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed. Mark 14:6-9

It is not up to us to judge one another’s unique responses to Jesus. He receives our expressions of love for Him with grace and pleasure.

Lord, thank you for loving the worship I bring You.

Three things about being one

January 9th, 2014 by Maureen

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me..I have given them the glory you gave me so they may be one as we are one. I am in them as you are in me, so they may be one as we are one.” Jn 17:21-22

Imagine the ramifications of this prayer. First, Jesus meant you and me. Second, the relationship He wants to have with us mirrors the one He enjoyed with the Father while Jesus was here on earth. Third, He wants us to have the sort of trusting, close relationships with one another that the Father and Jesus had.

Lord may we each experience even a fleeting moment of the glory Jesus wants for us.

 

Speakers and receivers

January 7th, 2014 by Maureen

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:24

It amazing how much we can receive when we listen. Learning to actively listen to what is said and receive that information into our lives is a skill that takes effort and practice. Too often we are busy thinking about how we are going to answer or supplying our own contexts to what is being said instead of giving our full attention to the speaker.

Lord, help me to listen and learn.