Archive for September, 2014

Passive contributors

September 30th, 2014 by Maureen

I will protect and carry you all the days of your life. Is. 46:4

We like being teamed with people who will do their share of the work and make measured decisions that protect the team. We like being trusted with our own portions of the load and being active contributors to the project. Here in the western world in the 21st century we see ourselves as individual contributors to a team. but in the eternal spiritual realm Jesus is the team. He carries all the weight and we ride into victory on His back.

Lord, without shame or reservation I surrender control of this project I call life to You.

 

 

 

Relax, His grace is enough

September 29th, 2014 by Maureen

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Eph. 4:7

We think of measuring as something that controls and restricts what we get. If something is measured out, then it must be only a portion of a greater amount. When we mess up we may feel the need to seek more grace to alleviate our feelings of guilt, or we may feel we’ve exhausted our measure of grace. God did not withhold even His own Son so the grace given each one of us is all the grace that exists.

Lord, thank You that I live and move and have my being in the immeasurable grace of Christ.

Breaking down “real world” Biblical advice

September 28th, 2014 by Maureen

A man’s gift makes room for him And brings him before great men. Prov. 18:16

Is giving gifts the writer’s love language? Is the Bible advising us to offer bribes or suck up to powerful people? Thoughtful gifts to those with whom we have personal, social, and businesses relationships do help us gain influence with those people. If gifts refers to our talents and abilities, then is the implication that those who are gifted and skilled in a particular area are likely to be perceived as more valuable and influential? We tend to base career decisions as much on what we consider our weaknesses as on what we consider our strengths because we are more likely to improve our lots by improving our existing strengths. This might be “real world” advice, but Jesus does things a whole different way.

Jesus thank you for bringing Your strength to my weakest areas and giving me Your most precious Gift because I have nothing to give back.

Worship is our spirit’s art form

September 27th, 2014 by Maureen

Jubal was the father of all who play the lyre and harp. Gen 4:23 God filled Bezalel with ability and intelligence, knowledge and craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.Ex. 31:2-4 Marian the prophetess took the timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing. Ex. 15:20

The arts have ancient roots in human culture and in how we respond to God’s presence in our lives. Art can strip down our intellectual understandings to visceral and emotional impressions. Poetry comes closest to doing that with words. The thing we call “worship,” is expression of our deepest responses to and impressions of all that God is.

Lord, here are the colors and patterns, the melodies and harmonies, the dance moves and poetry of my spirit’s love or You, awe of You, and delight in You.

All kinds of wonderful

September 26th, 2014 by Maureen

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful; I am fully aware of it. Ps. 139:14

Rather than running the endless hamster wheel of routine and survival, we can choose to be aware of God’s wonders around us and within us. This awareness need not be compartmentalized into devotional or prayer time. We can choose to process His wonder all around us all the time because He is always with us. Awareness of ourselves as His beloved, fully imagined, wonderfully made children can make our everyday lives extraordinary.

Lord, thank You for making me aware of Your wonders.

The myth of the self-made Christian

September 25th, 2014 by Maureen

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from us, but our adequacy comes from God. 2 Cor. 3:5

We may buy in to the idea that self-reliance makes us stronger or happier. We may look to our life experiences like jobs, finances, relationships, health, or positional influence to determine our sense of security and worth. We may derive a sense of personal accomplishment through consistent religious practice. But it is when there is no way to hedge our bets and we find ourselves having to jump with no net that we learn what it means to trust our lives fully to God.

Lord, I might be crazy to ask this, but I think I my life needs less hedge and more free fall into You.

In your face, trouble

September 24th, 2014 by Maureen

Rejoice in hope, be patient in trouble, and keep praying…Rom. 12:12

The prayer is usually for God to take the trouble away. The rejoicing usually happens after the trouble is gone. There is nothing wrong with that, but most of us have a few stubborn troubles that we can’t seem to pray away. Whether it looks like it or not, Jesus has already overcome this fallen world and all our particular troubles that come with living in it. Rejoicing in the face of trouble is our spirit’s way of catching up to what Jesus has already accomplished for us.

Lord, help me with these stubborn troubles as I pray. Help me when my patience wears thin. You are my hope and I rejoice in You.

Stirring things up

September 22nd, 2014 by Maureen

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Heb. 10:24

Stirring gives the stillness a little nudge to encourage movement. Stirring motivates our awareness of Christ, of who we are in Him, and of others and their needs. Our responses to this stirring allows us to become participants in the pure, pervasive love of God that connects us to Him and to each other. Stirring is a response to God’s goodness rather than some attempt to compensate for our perceived lack of it. Guilt and shame are used to prod people into doing good things but stirring is something else.

Lord, let my stirring and loving and working be a response to Who You are rather than Who I think I am.

 

The mystery of belief

September 21st, 2014 by Maureen

To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God but to those outside everything is in parables so that when “they look they may see yet not perceive, and when they listen, they might hear yet not understand;” lest they repent and be forgiven . Mark 4:11

This scripture gets bandied about a lot. Does it mean God only wants to save some? Did Jesus simply want to withhold understanding until after He completed His mission? Could Jesus’ reference to Is. 6:8 be a commentary on how dense His audience is? Or could it be that He didn’t want His words bandied about to prove what we think we understand to people who first need to believe. Perhaps His point is that belief needs to come first: “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe.”

Lord, thank You for the mysteries You’ve revealed to me and for everything that remains a mystery. I believe, help my unbelief.

Tired of toil and spin

September 18th, 2014 by Maureen

Consider the lilies of the field. They do not toil, neither do they spin. Yet Solomon in all his splendor was never dressed like one of these. Matt. 6:28-29.

Even the act of considering requires us to step away from our own working and making. All our efforts at self improvement and self-beautification are shoddy, tacky knock offs of the Creator’s own work. Rather than toiling and spinning to make ourselves look beautiful, successful, or even spiritual, we can simply consider ourselves in the context of Who He Is and let His care and nurture of us produce authentically beautiful results.

Lord, dress me. You’ve seen what happens when I try to dress myself and it’s not always pretty.

Another genius creation by the one and only God Almighty

September 17th, 2014 by Maureen

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Prov. 16:24

Kindness and emotional warmth produces oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin contributes to a healthy heart, reduces inflammation, and slows aging. It produces dopamine in the brain which is responsible for the natural high we feel when we are happy. While science suggests that some of us are more genetically predisposed to kindness, practicing kindness increases empathy in nearly everyone. Once again, our Creator knew what He was doing when He designed us.

Lord, in Your image and by Your grace, show me even more ways to be kind.

 

Whatever

September 15th, 2014 by Maureen

Whatever is true, whatever is is honorable, whatever is just, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Phil. 4:8

For whatever reason whatever is annoying, mean-spirited, and upsetting can distract us from dwelling on the things that build up our minds and spirits. We can’t control the thoughts that come into our heads but we can decide how much attention and credence to give to those thoughts. We can make conscious decisions to focus on good things, to notice beauty, and to commend excellence when we see it.

Lord, help me to focus on Your whatevers.

The troubles I’ve seen

September 14th, 2014 by Maureen

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. Jn. 16:33

Peace and perspective will never be found by looking at our troubles or at the circumstances surrounding them. The unseen evidence of the overcoming Christ becomes visible wen we look at Him and trust Him. Jesus was “crucified before the foundation of the world” even though it was thousands of years after the fall that He hung at Calvary. That doesn’t mean He didn’t always have the problem of evil well in hand. If He can do that, He’s got our troubles overcome.

Lord, give my heart and mind Your perspective on the troubles I see.

It might be simple, but it’s not that easy

September 13th, 2014 by Maureen

“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt?” Luke 24:38

The resurrected Jesus showed the disciples His hands and feet. He ate to prove He wasn’t the ghost they feared. He went over what He had taught them before His crucifixion. After all that, they didn’t quite get it, so He “opened their minds” so they could understand scripture. Then He promised to send the Holy Spirit to help them figure out where to go from there, and to help them not be afraid to go there. It might be simple but it must not be that easy if Jesus had to spell it out like that for His best friends who had already followed  Him around in person for three years. We are a needy bunch.

Lord, help me get past my doubting, fearful self.

Tapienos is not something on a menu

September 12th, 2014 by Maureen

Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am gentle, and tapienos of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. Matt. 11:29

Tapienos, is a Greek adjective  translated “humble,” “meek,” or “lowly.” In a positive sense it also means “dependent and reliant” upon God rather than self; or in a more negative sense, it can mean “abased,” “humiliated,” “depressed” or “brought to grief.”  Jesus’ felt tapienos in many of these ways. So do our souls. Jesus is comforting, empathetic and gentle with our weary souls and tapienos hearts. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Lord, rest my weary soul and tapienos heart.

Google glasses for the soul

September 11th, 2014 by Maureen

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Ps. 139:14

Our Father put intricate skill into making us. He marked us with His own image, placed us in a world dripping with His creative energy, and delighted in our exploration of it. Though His creation fell and is now impacted and distorted by evil, He continues to provide evidence of His wonderful, beautiful work, to inform us about His perspective on it, and to help us discover answers to our questions. He has already done His most wonderful, most beautiful work of restoration in Christ so that we might delight in Him and explore His works with Him again.

Lord, help  me to see myself and all You have made through the lens of Christ’s restorative power.

Believing the unbelievable

September 9th, 2014 by Maureen

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Jn. 3:16

Because it is so familiar, we can forget that Jn. 3:16 is such a radical idea. This was a rescue mission because perishing people don’t have the resources or strength to save themselves. This was an adoption because His motivation was to adopt us, not just to keep a bunch of broken people from perishing. Jesus made it clear that the Father’s intended for us to experience His love for us for all eternity.

Lord, I believe in Your unbelievable love for me.

These words, I don’t think they mean what you think they mean

September 7th, 2014 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

Debate does not mean attack. Explore does not mean endorse. Disagree does not mean condemn.We can get our panties in wads over semantics, styles, and schedules. We can let our aesthetics, palates, and preferences take precedence over relationships. Even when the issue is something that we consider a moral imperative or an absolute truth, how we treat people who disagree still matters. If “the greatest of these is love” then love comes first.

Lord, help me listen and love.

The smell of rain and the sound of thunder

September 4th, 2014 by Maureen

Who covers the heavens with clouds? Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains? Psalm 147:8

When God sends rain onto our drought-stricken land and into our parched spirits, rejoice in the smell of rain and in the sound of thunder. Just as he provides rain for the earth, he will also nourish and refresh our spirits. He will cause spiritual fruit to bloom within us like grass growing on the mountains.

Lord, let Your rain seep into this dry ground beneath my feet and drench the these dry places in my spirit.

 

The unexpendables

September 3rd, 2014 by Maureen

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:2

He is the Father of the prodigal watching the road, expecting his child to come home. He is the Shepherd leaving the 99 because the one has wandered away. He is the woman sweeping every nook and cranny of her house to locate the lost coin that has fallen between the cracks. We who walk away deliberately, we  who wander away unintentionally, and we who hide in plain sight still matter to God, so much so that He will wait for us, He will pursue us and He won’t give up until we are found.

Lord, thank you for considering me unexpendable.