Archive for August, 2014

This guy

August 31st, 2014 by Maureen

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy. Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:36-38

In wrapping up His parable, Jesus emphasized the good Samaritan’s compassionate attitude and behavior. He had nothing to say about the Samaritan’s theology or culture. Jesus could have made the character in His parable a law-abiding Jew, but He didn’t, because that wasn’t His point. He told this story right after saying that love was His greatest commandment.

Lord, thank You for showing Your face to me whenever anyone shows love and compassion.

Doubtless

August 30th, 2014 by Maureen

“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.” – Jesus  Matt. 21:21

Doubt is rooted in the fear that God, for whatever reason, won’t come through for us. Our fears turn to doubt and our doubt turns to resignation and mountains stay right where they are. The power of faith comes from knowing God is completely trustworthy, all powerful, loving, and gracious. The more dependent we are on Him and the more we trust Him, the more powerful our faith becomes.

Father, I don’t understand exactly how faith works, but there are some mountains in my life that need some talking to. I’m trusting You to give me the words.

 

Actually actualized

August 27th, 2014 by Maureen

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. Jn. 15:16

Each of us live out purposes set in motion by the God who made us and loves us. Spiritual fruit planted by The Holy Spirit ripens and sweetens within each of us. As we become the people we were meant to be our desires and ideas reconcile with Who the Father truly is.

Lord, lead me into the satisfied, actualized, and truly spiritual life You’ve chosen for me.

 

It really is that simple

August 26th, 2014 by Maureen

But I fear that as the serpent beguiled Eve by his subtlety that your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3

The simplicity of grace can be too much for our minds to accept. Systems, rituals, complicated explanations, and demanding practices may seem more interesting and challenging. They give us something to do. We can become so distracted with trying to analyze and dissect the concept of grace that we fail to enjoy the beauty and simplicity of belonging to Christ and basking in His love for us.  Just receive from Him. Grace really is that simple.

Lord, I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by complicated ideas, please help me simplify my focus.

Take my life and let it be

August 25th, 2014 by Maureen

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Gal.3:3

Perfection is a by-product of grace which is imputed to us by Christ. His work of reconciliation is perfecting us rather than the works of our hands. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort but that our efforts should become Spirit-led responses to His love and grace.

Lord, take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

I can pretend but God can transform

August 24th, 2014 by Maureen

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. There is no law against these things. Gal. 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit is one single fruit exhibiting many traits (the way an apple can be crisp, sweet, tart, and red all at the same time) that God produces in us as an authentic reflection of His transformation of us. These characteristics originate in God and are manifested in us by Him. If our focus is on trying really hard to develop one trait in ourselves such as self-control or kindness, there may be some benefit to our relationships and social skills, but we are only practicing rather than becoming.

Lord, make of me what I can only pretend to be.

God is still there and He is still good

August 23rd, 2014 by Maureen

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Ps. 9:9-10

God remains our shelter. He is near though confusion obscures our view of Him. His goodness and love are constant even when we feel abandoned. God always sees where we are and stays with us, even in the dark, rough places where we are completely confused about how and why we got there. We can trust Him with what comes next.

Lord, thank Your for being with me when I search for meaning, direction, and comfort.

 

Take a deep breath

August 22nd, 2014 by Maureen

Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Ps. 144:4 (NAS)

School begins and the year stretching out before us seems long until we look back and see how fast the summer passed. Time goes by so quickly, and seems to accelerate with every year. Today is the past we will look back on in the future. If it is mere breath, then breathe deeply and choose to be fully present in the present.

Lord, I thank you for my life, for this day, this minute. Help me to live the fully abundance of it.

 

I can even fail through Christ who strengthens me

August 21st, 2014 by Maureen

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

Seeking the strength of Christ does not make us passive participants. We still have to put ourselves out there. We still take on challenges, solve problems, prioritize and execute tasks, and make mistakes; but we never have to do them alone. We can even fail. He is just as present and remains just as strong when we are disappointed by the outcomes of the things we do as when we are pleased with them. Our worth to Him is not determined by our performance.

Lord, thank you for the reassuring strength I find in Your powerful love for me.

Seeing things in a different light

August 20th, 2014 by Maureen

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. Jn. 1:4

The most basic use for light is to help us see, but the way an environment is lit adds to the mood and to the overall ambiance of the space. We light different spaces to accommodate their functions as well. Consider how our responses to various environments, and the people in them, are affected by the light in which we see them.

Lord, help my spiritual eyes to adjust so that I can see the places where I live, work, and play illuminated by Your redeeming light.

Another new song

August 18th, 2014 by Maureen

I will sing a new song to you, O God! Ps. 144:9

That time God showed up with a check the day the bill was due. That time God painted that particularly orange sunset. That time He whispered “now” and we took a leap of faith. Every moment deserves a song, a new song that’s never been sung to God before, because that moment has never been lived by anyone else before. Our praise doesn’t make Him more glorious; our awareness of His presence in our lives brings His glory into our experiences.

I am so grateful and astounded for this beautiful moment right here and right now.

 

Divergent thoughts

August 17th, 2014 by Maureen

I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Jn. 14:6

All over the world this Sunday billions of people, affiliated with about 33,000 distinct denominations or non-denominations, will hear a variety of takes on what it means to follow Christ. Rather than focusing on theological differences, distinctives, and disagreements, we might consider that passion for authentic experience in following Christ’s way, understanding His truth, and living engaged and present lives with Him could be the driving factor for change. We could consider Christ as the unifying principle from which all these different ways diverge. Each of us can seem divergent to somebody else.

Lord, conflict seems inevitable, but help us all to love one another and receive one another as family.

Measuring motive

August 16th, 2014 by Maureen

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. I Cor. 13:3

We are a result-oriented culture and we are used to evaluating the results of other people’s behaviors. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to talk about obedience than it is to talk about love. We can apply a rubric to obedience but not to love. The desire to respond to life with loving motives rather than simply performing in ways that can be perceived as loving forces introspection and dependence on the love of Christ Himself.

Lord, when I look within I realize that at my best I have mixed motives. Help me stay connected to Your love so that Your motives become my own.

 

Mine, all mine

August 13th, 2014 by Maureen

So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belongs to you— whether Paul or Apollos or Peter,  or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. All are yours and you belong to Christ, and Christ is God’s. I Cor. 3:21-23

The depth and width and breadth and height of God’s love, of His mind, and of His kingdom is vast and wondrous. We limit our relationship with the infinite Christ and make His kingdom small when we limit our perspective to the understandings of a few human beings. He sent His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. This should excite us rather than frighten us.

Lord, take me higher up and further in.

No projects, just people

August 12th, 2014 by Maureen

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Phil 1:3

When our relationship roles involve parenting, leading, managing, teaching, or helping people we may tend to focus on how we can help ‘improve” those people rather than enjoying who they are right now. Thanking God for the people in our lives – all the people in our lives – tends to elevate each of them past “project” to “brother” or “sister.” This is the context for loving and helping one another.

Lord, thank you for all these people in my life. I love them. Period.

Presently present in the presence

August 10th, 2014 by Maureen

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Ps. 16:11

Jesus said that He is the way. In John 17  He prayed for us to always be as present with Him as He is present with the Father. David speaks of being with God like this in the present tense. What if we spent more time in the joyful presence of God than trying to figure out if we are headed in the right direction toward some future joy?

Lord, I want to be present with You now and experience this joy in the present.

Intimacy or safety doesn’t have to be either-or

August 9th, 2014 by Maureen

But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,e are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:16-18 ESV

It is the dichotomy of the human condition to desire intimacy yet hide in fear. It is the Spirit of God who takes off our fig leaf masks so that we can be known and loved. The barriers we create to make ourselves feel safe are often the very things that prevent us from being known and loved fully.

Lord, I wish all this felt safer, but I trust You.

Be unto others…

August 8th, 2014 by Maureen

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Luke 6:31

If actions speak louder than words, attitudes can speak even louder than actions. The question is not just “What would I want done for me?” but “How would I want it done?” Most everybody wants to be on the receiving end of words and actions that are loving, gracious, supportive, and honest.

Lord, help me to communicate to others what I want communicated to me through my words, my actions, and my attitudes.

Overwhelming concern

August 7th, 2014 by Maureen

I rejoice  in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned before, but you had no opportunity. Phil. 4:10 (MOUNCE)

Widespread and instantaneous access to information exposes human beings to more need and sorrow, adversity and animosity than we are equipped to address. We have to limit our concerns to the things which we have opportunity to contribute to solutions. It helps to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading on where to focus our energies and to be honest with ourselves about our motives for the concerns we choose to make our passions. Otherwise we can become overwhelmed with worry and concern or controlling and judgmental toward those who have focused resources and energies toward concerns other than those that matter to us.

Lord, I want to care about what matters to you and act only on the impulse of Your love and concern.

50,000 reasons we need God all the time

August 6th, 2014 by Maureen

For those who live according to the flesh have set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 (MOUNCE)

According to brain scientists the average human has about 50,000 thoughts per day. While we can’t control all the thoughts that flicker across our minds, we can choose which ones we dwell on. How we choose determines so much about our relationships, perspectives, attitudes, and decisions. Making the conscious choice to be spiritually present with God creates filters and connections for processing all that data.

Lord, show me how to live in a constant awareness of Your Spirit.