Archive for October, 2014

Future tense

October 30th, 2014 by Maureen

Commit your future to the Lord. Trust Him and he will act on your behalf. Ps. 37:5

In this life any future we plan for ourselves carries elements of risk. While we can learn to minimize risk and predict outcomes, hedge our bets or protect ourselves from the uncertainties of the future, there are no guarantees in this life. Instead of feeling future tense, we can relax and turn our resources over to God to spend and invest as He sees fit. We can trust Him with all our worries and hopes about the future.

Lord, I’m trusting you to take me further, higher, greater, and deeper than any future I can imagine or plan for myself.

Before all the trouble starts

October 29th, 2014 by Maureen

Listen to my cry for help, for I am in serious trouble! Rescue me from those who chase me, for they are stronger than I am. Ps. 142:6

We are not designed to be self-sufficient and there is no shame is asking for help. In fact it’s probably best to assess the situation and anticipate the need for help before serious trouble starts. This is not a sign of pessimism or weakness or lack of faith in God or lack of self-confidence. We practice humility, reason, and responsibility when we need help and ask for it.

Lord, help me ask for help when I need it and offer it so others don’t even have to ask.

A look in the mirror

October 28th, 2014 by Maureen

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Cor. 13:12

A reflection only reveals how we look at one particular moment in time. Some reflections capture an expression or attitude that really communicates what’s under the surface, some are less instructive. When we look into our soul’s mirror we sometimes see a beautiful clear reflection of Christ, but sometimes the image is a little foggy or distorted, which probably has more to do with our own focus and vision than with His proximity. No quick glimpse in a mirror, no snapshot of an eternal relationship, can communicate everything. He is always there.

Lord, help me get past the distractions in my life to see Your clear reflection in the mirror of my soul.

Redefining you and me

October 27th, 2014 by Maureen

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

Peter who denied, Thomas who doubted, Paul who persecuted, the woman at the well, Roman officers, healed lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and observant Jews went back into communities that still defined them by their pasts. Sometimes they may have been tempted to keep defining themselves that way. We sometimes still do that to ourselves and each other. The crucifixion and resurrection redefines all of us in the same way it redefines Christ for those who believe.

Lord, thank You for this resurrected, restored life I live in You and through You.

Pack your stuff, the “before” scenario is over

October 24th, 2014 by Maureen

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take your bed, and walk. Jn. 5:8

When Jesus puts His hands on us we get to walk away from old, destructive internal conflicts, and often from the external circumstances that go with them. Jesus says, take everything that’s important with you because you never have to come back here again. We may carry reminders of the past but the change Jesus effects in us frees us from ever having to experience life from the painful, confusing, humiliating perspective of a spiritual invalid’s mat. We are permanently and powerfully transformed children of a beloved Father who loves taking us to new and exciting places.

Lord, thank you for this fluid, changing life that You encourage me through.

 

Faith expressed in love is spiritual graphene

October 23rd, 2014 by Maureen

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Gal. 5:6

Graphene is a thin, pure carbon sheet that is a strong, transparent, flexible, and conductive material with a wide variety of potential uses. The best, strongest, and most effective and versatile form of faith is based in love. Loving faith is sensitive and nimble, adapting to provide light, warmth, energy, support, transmission, reinforcement, strength, nourishment, and to be used in ways we haven’t even anticipated. Faith expressed in love increases our own awareness of God and communicates His love for others through our responses to them.

Lord, may my faith always be expressed in love.

 

If God made us, then…

October 21st, 2014 by Maureen

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, endure forever—forsake not the works of Your own hands. Ps. 138:8 (Amp)

Poor David must have been in a bad patch to acknowledge God’s love and think He might be forsaken in the same breath. Sometimes circumstances seem to prevent us from seemingly constructive pursuits. Sometimes it can feel like we are stuck in neutral. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem like God is doing much with our lives. Sometimes that’s how plans work. Sometimes the structure, pattern and beauty does not emerge in the planning stage.

God, You made me and I know you won’t forsake me.  I trust you are working out the life You made me to live.

Deeper into God’s thoughts

October 20th, 2014 by Maureen

You cause me to rejoice in Your work. I sing about the works of your hands. How great are your works and how deep your thoughts. Ps. 92:4-5

Contemplating the works and thoughts of God puts our own pursuits and ideas in perspective. Awe releases creativity. Rejoicing frees us from fear and doubt. As we begin to notice Him and experience His thoughts in every aspect of our lives we become less compartmentalized. Awareness and joy and presence are the way of life for those who enjoy the deep thoughts of God.

Lord, I love your presence. Take me deeper into Your thoughts.

Who, what, when, where, how, and why

October 18th, 2014 by Maureen

Now in putting everything in subjection to Jesus, God left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. Heb. 2:8

We can get bogged down in the “whens,” and “wheres” of Christ’s dominion, looking for evidence of it in the world and stressing over our own individual surrender to it. Yet all creation has been held together by Him since before there were “all things.” God created and ordered time and space but He has always transcended them. He brings us into this transcendence through one “before the foundation” yet specific time and place event on earth: Calvary. Why is the most simple but most astounding concept of all: He loves us and always has.

Thank you that who and what I am in You transcends the evidence of earth’s whens and wheres. May I be on earth as I am in Your transcendent thought of me.

Historic markers on the road of life

October 17th, 2014 by Maureen

Remember what You’ve learned about the Lord through Your experiences with Him. Deut. 11:2

Letting God have control of the present when we can’t see where He is going is difficult. Looking back on past moments in our lives when we can say with certainty that God showed up helps. There are times in each of our lives that we can point to and say that what He was beyond our own strength or imagination. These personal historic markers inform what we can expect of Him now and in the future.

Lord, in constant gratitude, I look back in awe, forward in trust, and surrender my path right now to Your guidance and direction.

Practice aestheticism not asceticism

October 16th, 2014 by Maureen

Some turn away from true faith by forbidding marriage or demanding abstinence from food that God created to be received with thanksgiving…since everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer. 1 Tim. 4:2-5

Asceticism is deliberate, disciplined self-denial. Aestheticism is a devotion to beauty. Christ’s beautiful gift to us is lavish, joyful, exceeding abundance. The results of embracing the beautiful grace of Christ is not deliberate, painful, white-knuckle self-denial but the joyful abundance of a grateful life that His Holy Spirit has filled with beautiful things that actually bring happiness and satisfaction.

Lord, thank You for all the good gifts You’ve created for me to enjoy.

Rocking boats and shipwrecks

October 14th, 2014 by Maureen

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39

When the winds of trouble blow in our lives He is still here to say “Peace! Be still!” When emotional storms brew in our hearts He is still here to say “Peace! Be still!”  The great calm of His presence and the great power of His voice bring peace into whatever circumstances are rocking our boats, even the ones that already look like shipwrecks.

Lord, give me Your peace, stillness, and calm.

Righteousness and kindness are not mutually exclusive

October 12th, 2014 by Maureen

The Lord is righteous, holy, and just in all His ways. Merciful, gracious, and kind are all His works. Ps. 145:17 (combination of NAS, ESV, YLT, NLT, KJV)

Too often our attempts at behaving righteously result in unkind, unmerciful communication to the very people who need to understand what grace means and how it works. While He was on earth Jesus manifested His righteousness through His kindness. As we participate in works of mercy, grace, and kindness that the Spirit enables through us, we can trust that the righteous way that He is (and we are too because He has made us righteous through His sacrifice) will also be communicated by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, make me like You in all my ways and all my works.

No more shutting down and shutting out

October 10th, 2014 by Maureen

Bear with one another and forgive one another should anyone have a complaint against another. As the Lord graciously has forgiven you, so you must forgive. Col. 3:13

While our primary relationship with God should be the root of our joy and fulfillment, we do invest our hearts in relationships with other people. Our relationships with other people give those people permission to add to our enjoyment of life and to take away from it. No one likes to feel vulnerable so its natural to want to withhold ourselves from others to protect from disappointment and conflict. But this is not God’s way.

Lord, dip my dry and weary heart into the waters of Your forgiveness and saturate it anew with Your love. Help me remain open in my relationships.

 

Pulling bitterness up by the roots

October 10th, 2014 by Maureen

Take care that no one forfeits the grace of God, that no root of bitterness grows up and causes trouble and because of it many may be defiled. Heb. 12:15 (Mounce Reverse Interlinear)

Grace is never the heavy. It is not an accuser. It does not condemn. Because of this grace may not look as strong as it is. We may beat ourselves up over our own failings or let bitterness defile the relationships that try our patience. Disappointment and frustration can break our spirits and cause us to forfeit grace for something that seems more powerful. In reality nothing is more powerful and transforming than the grace of Christ.

Lord, uproot all bitterness in my life and help me to live inside the strength of Your grace.

Mortal fear

October 8th, 2014 by Maureen

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear..Ps. 101:17

do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed so that enosh of the earth may no more strike terror. (Orthodox Jewish Bible) He addeth no more to oppress — man of the earth! (YLT) Ps. 101:18

This word, “enosh” means mortal. Sometimes our response to suffering and to what we think God is doing when we suffer adds to our affliction. What if our afflictions, emergencies, suffering, etc. are just par for the mortal course? What if God isn’t aiming flaming arrows of grief at us either to punish us for some failure, or just to see how well we hold up? What if God really doesn’t add to mortal oppression?  Just entertaining that possibility takes a level of dysfunction off the prayers we pray when we are already dealing with the terrors of enosh.

Lord, hear our desires, strengthen our hearts, replace our terrors with Your love and reassurance.

Real freedom is no trap

October 7th, 2014 by Maureen

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Jn. 8:32

Freedom is a difficult concept since most humans are born and raised in one trap or another. Too many of us are freed from the trap we know only to become entangled in other traps that we mistake for freedom. Real freedom doesn’t come with checklists or criteria. Real freedom doesn’t involve dependencies or obsessions. Jesus didn’t come to free us from one trap only to have us imprisoned in another.

Lord, lead me to truth and freedom as You define them.

God knows

October 6th, 2014 by Maureen

O Lord hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer for it comes from honest lips. Ps. 17:1

God already knows what we want and why we want it. He knows who we are concerned about and what we want for them and why. He knows what makes us angry and what hurts us. He knows when we are pretending because we don’t want to be judged.  He knows when we are frustrated and don’t understand what He’s up to. There are no secrets from Him. Starting prayer from that point saves a lot of time and energy.

Lord, I’m glad You have this ’cause I don’t.

Start at square one

October 4th, 2014 by Maureen

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. Phil 1:9-10

Trying to live pure and blameless lives without understanding what matters and/or trying to understand what matters without love as a driving motive, imagines that loves is the finish line when it’s really the starting point. Love has to inform knowledge, priorities, and life choices. Any other kind of life, no matter how perfect and blameless it looks, is backwards.

Lord, let love be my square one every time.

God’s will for your life

October 3rd, 2014 by Maureen

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12:2

Instead of trying to figure what God wants from us, perhaps the question we should be asking is “What does God want for us?” Realizing the full potential of our genetic makeup or  living up to the highest ideals of our upbringing, culture, education, social circle, or church cannot tell us who we are. Our Maker created us for so much more than we can make of ourselves on our very best day.

Lord, renew my mind that I might be on earth as I already am in Your mind.