Archive for August, 2015

Overwhelming instead of overthinking

August 31st, 2015 by Maureen

I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With  unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jer. 31:3

His love never fails. Sometimes overthinking our circumstances and our choices can cause us to lose focus on His love for us. Whatever is happening in our lives, God’s love is the same love. His love is not conditional on our ability to perceive His will, obey His will, or understand His will. He willed us to Himself through Christ. If we are looking at Him and lost in His overwhelming love for us, the details in our lives and our responses to those details are likely to be reconciled to Him without our stressing over them so much.

Lord, I am overwhelmed by Your love.

Mind blowing

August 30th, 2015 by Maureen

God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work in us. Eph. 3:20-21

God’s love and character is unchanging but cannot be contained. God  is so expansive that He exists as Three in One. From His goodness and perfection God expressed Himself in creating Heaven and Earth. Perhaps He made humans with the ability to pro-create and to be creative so that His character, love, joy and light might reflect like an ever-changing kaleidoscope of unique and beautiful images of this massive reality that is our God. And through Christ the very Spirit of this immeasurable God works in us in a way that makes us consistent with Who He Is yet powerfully individual and uniquely beloved reflections of the Image in which we are created. This is mind blowing.

Lord, when I feel powerless and limited help me perceive Your immeasurable, unimaginable power at work in me.

 

Fear is not Good News

August 29th, 2015 by Maureen

There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. So the one who fears has not been perfected in love. 1 Jn. 4:18

Isn’t love a more compelling, stable and logical motive for relationship with God? If God is love and there is no fear in love, then why is fear ever used as a technique for inspiring people to believe in God or to follow Him after believing? (fear of hell, fear of punishment, fear of God’s rejection, fear of misrepresenting Jesus, etc?) If Jesus sacrifice, motivated by God’s love, perfected forever those sanctified by Him through faith then why would ministers of Good News spend so much time and attention creating fear over the “thou shalt nots,” sin, or failure? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of logic in fear-based ministry.

Lord, help me experience the perfect, fearless love You have for me.

Friendship is seldom 50-50

August 28th, 2015 by Maureen

A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 17:17

People become friends for all sorts of reasons: neighborhood, jobs, church, organizations, mutual interests, mutual friends. When we feel we are getting love and support back it’s easy to invest time and emotional energy into friendships. But when we or one of our friends hits a rough patch and don’t have much to give back, there is a temptation to withdraw. Sometimes we have to step back from toxic relationships, but in most circumstances, even when its something we can’t fix and may not even understand, we can keep loving and allow our friends to keep loving us. Friends are usually part of God’s helping and healing process.

Lord, I trust You for my friends’ needs. Show me the best way to stand with them and to let them stand with me.

Stuck in small lives

August 27th, 2015 by Maureen

Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way… Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! 2 Cor. 6:12-13 (Msg)

If our perceptions and decisions are limited by our damaged memories, our human expectations, our cultural biases, our current knowledge, our fears and desires, and our immediate surroundings we are unlikely to envision or embrace the expansive, abundant life God has for us. We will not find relief from our restlessness and dissatisfaction with more or better versions of the same thing. When we feel stuck in small lives God not only offers something  exquisitely and refreshingly different.

Lord, help me to have the vision, motivation and energy to seek, to see, and to embrace the big life You give me.

Huge, enormous, colossal God

August 26th, 2015 by Maureen

Psalm 8 asks: What is man that God is mindful of him?

Is. 49:16 answers “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.”

God’s greatness does not relegate us to insignificance. Our relationship with God begins in His love for us.  Luke 12:7 says that God knows how many hairs on on your head. Each of us is so valuable to Him that He calls you, “Beloved!” His love for us elevates us to the status of being called children of God and the privilege of calling Him “Father” and His concern for us extends to every detail in our lives so we can case our cares on Him knowing that He cares for us. Our enormous God is capable of enormous love for an enormous number of people. No matter how much time passes and how many people pass through this life, each of us matters to Him.

Thank You, Father, for Your great love for me.

Start here

August 25th, 2015 by Maureen

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace. 1 Tim. 1:2 & 2 Tim 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Pet. 1:2

This is how Paul began both letters to Timothy. He started many of his letters this way as did Peter. Both writers understood that grace, mercy, and peace needed to motivate and inform everything else they had to say.  More conversations should begin with mutual prayers for grace, mercy, and peace.

Lord, help me begin what I have to say with grace, mercy and peace.

Big Daddy

August 23rd, 2015 by Maureen

You did not receive the spirit of slavery leading back to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption. By Him we cry out “Abba, Father!” Rom. 8:15

The law resulted in constant fear of messing up and being punished. Under the law, the almost unavoidable perception of God was that of an austere and intolerant taskmaster. At least that’s the result of 1400 years of law in the hands of generations of religious leaders. This was not the relationship God wanted to have with His most beloved creation. Only the Son could demonstrate what it means to be beloved by the Father. Christ’s redemption of us restores that relationship with the Father, without fear, beyond law.

Daddy, I want to be motivated by love of You rather than fear of You.

We are not alone

August 21st, 2015 by Maureen

I will never leave you or forsake you. Heb. 13:5

Jesus experienced the forsaking because humans did the leaving. God is and always has been with us even when we don’t know it or feel it. Before the deception of Adam and Eve, God walked beside them in the cool of the day. Before the law of Moses, God made friends with humans and spoke with them. Before Jesus came to redeem all humankind, God continued to carve paths of communication with those who followed His law. Then He sent Jesus, (aka Emanuel which means “God with us”) to live with us and redeem us. Then He sent His Spirit to dwell with us and in us so that, if we so choose, His presence with us is something we can know and experience all our lives.

Lord, I don’t want to leave or forsake You either!

Jesus lit the eternal flame

August 17th, 2015 by Maureen

Even the darkness is not dark to You, the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to You. Ps. 139:12

When things seem dark to us they are still bright to God. When we hide ourselves in dark places we aren’t hiding from God or from His light. Wherever we are now and whatever we’ve done in the past that makes us think we’ve crowded all the light out of our souls, His light remains because we can’t blow out a flame God lit.

Lord, give me light-sensitive spiritual eyes so that I can see light in the dark.

God isn’t playing hide and seek

August 16th, 2015 by Maureen

You [God] said to me “Seek my face!” and my heart to You, “Your face, Lord, I do seek!” Ps. 27:8

God wants face time with us. He initiated the meet up. He came down here to issue a personal invitation. Seeking isn’t meant to be a frustrating series of tasks that we have to get right in order to find God, get an answer, or earn a blessing. He wants us to seek Him because we want to be with Him as much as He wants to be with us. He wants to be the end of our quest rather than the means to some other end. Everything else is just details.

Lord, I love Your face!

 

Great Physician to the mostly dead

August 15th, 2015 by Maureen

His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, nourished in love. Eph. 4:16 (Message)

Into lifeless spirits God transfused the blood of His Son. The Spirit of God breathed into our spiritual lungs to resuscitate us. The Father gently feeds us, sometimes intravenously when we are too spiritually weak to chew or even realize we are being fed, even when we insist on abusing ourselves with guilt, pride, and other spiritual toxins. Our Great Physician who loves us is determined to restore our spirits to abundant life and complete health no matter how spiritually dead we feel.

Lord, thank You for bringing me back to life and putting me on a steady diet of Your nourishing love.

 

 

Have a delightful day

August 14th, 2015 by Maureen

For the Lord delights in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let the faithful rejoice that he honors them. Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds. Ps. 149:4-5

Waking up singing is a great feeling. The Creator, God of the Universe experiences delight because He made us and He loves us. He want to He pour His joy right back into us so that we are delighted too. The closer we are to Him, the more we become who He made us and the less our frustrations and desires define us. There is great delight and peace in that being who we are meant to be.

Lord, show me Your delight and make my life delightful.

Abstract faith

August 13th, 2015 by Maureen

Grace and mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and in love. 2 Jn. 1:

How many abstract concepts can a writer put in one sentence? Grace, mercy, peace, the Father, Jesus, truth, love…only Jesus is a tangible historical figure and His identity as God is debated by many. Humans attempt to define and measure evidence of these abstract ideas, and sometimes try to evaluate personal faith based on these definitions and measures. Faith never can come down to a set of measurable behaviors or to concrete archaeological evidence. Love, truth, peace, mercy, and grace in our experiences and relationships encompass more than events and results. Jesus came to make relationship with our Father more than meeting expectations or adhering to rules. “With us” is huge and tangible and experiential.

Lord, help us be as aware of Your presence.

August 13th, 2015 by Maureen

Grace and mercy and peace will be with us from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ the Son of the Father, in truth and in love. 2 Jn. 1:

How many abstract concepts can a writer put in one sentence? Grace, mercy, peace, the Father, Jesus, truth, love…only Jesus is a tangible historical figure and His identity as God is debated by many. Humans attempt to define and measure evidence of these abstract ideas, and sometimes try to evaluate personal faith based on these definitions and measures. Faith never can come down to a set of measurable behaviors or to concrete archaeological evidence. Love, truth, peace, mercy, and grace in our experiences and relationships encompass more than events and results. Jesus came to make relationship with our Father more than meeting expectations or adhering to tenets.

Lord, help us be as aware of Your presence.

When fear drives us to our knees

August 12th, 2015 by Maureen

Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you…don’t let your heart be troubled or afraid. Jn. 14:27

Fear may drive us to our knees, but God doesn’t enjoy our fear or manipulate our emotions through fear. He’s bigger than that. Over and over Jesus said “fear not.” As legitimate as our fears may seem, we do have a choice about the focus and perspective of our hearts and minds. Our willingness to trust His love and grace, and to leave our concerns to His power and goodness, detaches the fear and replaces it with peace and confidence and even joy.

Lord, I trust you with all my recurring fears and ongoing troubles.

The quick flash and the slow burn of anger

August 11th, 2015 by Maureen

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and its His glory to overlook offense. Prov. 19:11

What makes you mad? For me it’s mean, selfish, and inconsiderate people, injustice, poorly designed products, bad directions, and the list goes on. Once in awhile anger is actually an impetus for constructive change but too often anger is merely a quick flash to relieve tension or, often worse, a seething, slow burn that messes up attitudes and relationships long term. Stuffing anger and calling it control isn’t exactly the same as overlooking offense. A principle truth of the gospel is that God actually forgets our offenses because Christ has redeemed them. We can let Him redeem the things that make us mad too.

Lord, You know what’s needling me today. Give me grace and compassion and a tangible sense of Your glory as I choose to overlook offenses.

 

Just live life and love it

August 10th, 2015 by Maureen

The foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans…1 Cor. 1:25a

In 1957 Alan Saunders coined the phrase: “Life  is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” If God had hired a marketing team I doubt His redemption story would have included: born in a manger, died on a cross, never wrote anything down. When Jesus said to preach the good news I’m not sure He set up measurable objectives for 2015 involving J-cubes, YouTube, and VBS attendance. God’s simple, “foolish” plan trumps our savvy, smart plans. Doing a life we love with people we know and love has the greatest potential for revealing a personal, transforming, redemptive Christ to those who need to know Him.

Lord, I feel like my life has been stuck in the planning phase for awhile. I need to get busy living. Help me with that.

Jesus takes the “fatal” out of our flaws

August 9th, 2015 by Maureen

We do not have a high priest who is unable to feel our weaknesses, but one who has been peirazo (tempted or tried) in all the ways we are yet without hamartia (sin or fatal flaw or missing the target). Heb. 4:15

Jesus is an experienced traveler through this arduous journey we call life. He understands the flight, fight, or freeze responses that stress and fear create. He knows our innate impulses toward self-preservation and self-satisfaction as well as relationship preservation play into the choices we make and how we feel about those choices. He knows how desires, necessities, and even noble causes can distract us from more important goals. Only Jesus managed the human journey without messing up. He understands that too.

Lord, thank you for taking the “fatal” out of my flaws.

Awareness of aliveness

August 8th, 2015 by Maureen

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, though we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:5-6

The only control we have in this relationship is how we respond to it. We can’t make God not love us. We can’t make His gift of grace go away. We can’t cause God not to be Who He is to us. But we do get to choose whether or not to experience the relationship and the awareness that goes with being objects of His great love.

I want to be constantly aware of my aliveness in You.