Archive for September, 2015

There are no bad seats in God’s kingdom

September 30th, 2015 by Maureen

For He is our peace and has broken down the dividing wall [between Jew and Gentile], abolished through His flesh the hostility, the law of the commandments, so as to create himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace. Eph. 2:14-15 (Mounce Interlinear)

For a long time the Jews saw themselves as the insiders and the Gentiles as the outsiders. Some even tried to create a pecking order so that some Jews would be considered better than others. Even the mother of the apostles James and John asked Jesus to give her sons top status in His kingdom. But Jesus came so that nobody would be “in” or “out.” He came to shove the “inner circle” to the borders of the farthest galaxy so that humans He created through His second Adam would enjoy unity, peace, and inclusion rather than the divisions, animosity,  and exclusion that descendants of His first Adam made for themselves.

Lord, help me be loving, welcoming, and including.

Witnesses to miracles

September 29th, 2015 by Maureen

Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!” Luke 5:26

Souls walk among us with amazing stories of healing and resurrection because of Christ. Every day we brush shoulders with people who are spiritual miracles. Every day we look into the mirror and see  one of them. Be amazed and let each miracle of grace grip your heart.

Lord, thank you for all the miracles in my life.

No dire blood moon predictions here.

September 28th, 2015 by Maureen

Fear not little flock for its the Father’s delight to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

Our Father into whose kingdom we have been adopted as sons and daughters opens His arms to us in delight. He spreads out a feast and carries us to the table. He invites us to explore His kingdom. He is our Companion on this adventure of a lifetime. He tells us to bring all our friends. When we think we can’t go on He reminds us that He’s already accomplished everything on our behalf and He’ll just carry us for awhile. When we feel afraid He reminds us that His perfect love casts out fear.

Lord, instead of focusing on fears and doubts I want to focus on Your love and delight.

 

Having to earn is exhausting, getting to seek is exhiliarating

September 27th, 2015 by Maureen

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Matt. 6:33

Seeking keeps us actively engaged because we can’t be the source of His “kingdom,” “righteousness,” or “justification,” (the two words have the same root in the Greek dikaiosynē). Seeking takes away the pressure and the pride that comes with relying on our own performance-driven righteousness. Seeking holds constant adventure, discovery, and surprise because God is the source. He reveals His kingdom. He assigns His righteousness to us. He decides what the “added things” look like.  It may seem easier to define “righteous” and keep a scorecard. With a scorecard we can assess our own performance and demand our “added things” because we’ve earned them. Even if our motives are pure and the kingdom takes priority over the added things the scorecard approach seems like a negotiation in which God blesses us if we are good. That seems like being at work all the time instead of being with family.

Father, I’m so glad this is adoption instead employment.

 

Believe

September 25th, 2015 by Maureen

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Rom. 15:13

Our beliefs about Who Jesus is and what His life, death, and resurrection means (I use present tense due to my beliefs) are just that: beliefs. Peace with God happens because we choose to believe in His love and grace. Holy Spirit encourages us and confirms the truth of Christ in our Spirits so that we can have peace even when we feel conflicted because of evil that we see, do, or ignore. The joy and peace, love and grace we experience are spiritual results of simple belief in Who Jesus is and What He accomplished. Sometimes we make it harder than it actually is by thinking there is more for us to accomplish or something we have to factually prove.

Lord,  I believe. Even when I don’t understand.

What? Me worry?

September 24th, 2015 by Maureen

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. I Peter 5:7

Sometimes it’s hard not to worry. Worrying about failure can lead to doing nothing. Worrying about provision can lead to selfishness, greed, and envy. Worrying about the past can lead to resentment and fear. Worrying about the future can lead to missing the present. Being present in God’s care can lead to contentment and growth.

Lord, I am putting my worry in your capable hands. Thank you.

Happy hot fall

September 23rd, 2015 by Maureen

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Gen 8:22

In Texas while people in other parts of the country post pictures of changing leaves and put on light jackets, a high of 97 is predicted for the first day of fall. Sometimes seasons don’t change when we are ready for them to change. Some things take longer than expected. Just as we know it will eventually get a little cooler in Texas, we can also be assured that seasons will change in our lives too. We can choose to suffer, to tolerate, or to actually enjoy the sameness until things change. We get to choose our attitudes. God will meet us whatever we choose, but why to choose joy?

Lord, if I’m honest, I’m ready for some cool weather but I’m open for You to show me delights in this hot day.

Enduring vs surviving

September 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. 2 Thess. 3:5

Powering through life in survival mode can cause us to put our hearts in neutral. Jesus did not go to the cross to survive but to endure. Motivated by love and the “joy set before Him,” His endurance yielded forever relationships with us. Endurance develops our faith and helps us tap into the tenderness of Christ so that we can remain loving and hopeful when we face situations that require selflessness, patience, and sacrifice. The lives we live are not about preserving ourselves, our stuff, and our agendas but about loving God and others.

Lord help me to endure even if I don’t survive.

Goodness gracious

September 21st, 2015 by Maureen

Give thanks to the Lord because He is good and His enduring love lasts forever. Ps. 136:1

We spend a lot of energy trying to figure out how to be good when we can’t manufacture goodness out of anything in ourselves. He is good. His Spirit in the world is what makes life good for anybody. His grace invites us into His goodness. All we can do to is acknowledge His presence in our lives and within us and thank Him. It’s all we have to do.

Lord, help me be more keenly aware of Your goodness and translate Your goodness into the experiences I have today.

We are family

September 20th, 2015 by Maureen

So let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding. Rom. 14:19

Ideas and attitudes that make for peace require acceptance of those who might not do it the same way we do. Mutual upbuilding might mean finding common ground and rejoicing in those ideas together even though we vehemently disagree about other ideas. The kingdom of God is big enough for all of us. We are all children of the same Father, brothers and sisters all, even when we each stand in slightly different areas of His enormous truth.

Lord, as I stand in the truth You’ve revealed for me  let me be part of peace and mutual upbuilding among all Your children.

 

No danger, Will Robinson

September 19th, 2015 by Maureen

And let the peace of Christ be the ruling principle in your heart…Col. 3:15a

dangerWhen peace is not the ruling principle in our hearts circumstances and problems tend to kick us into emergency mode. It’s hard to shake off fear and insecurity in emergency mode. It’s hard to be proactive rather than reactive. Sometimes we just feel like running around waving our arms shouting “danger!” If we are able to improve the circumstances we might feel relief, but what happens when circumstances don’t change or when we feel vulnerable to the next disaster? When peace is the default setting for our hearts we tend to have a healthier, more even-keeled approach to all of life, even the messy parts.

Lord, I want to let Your love, goodwill, grace, and power rule my heart and tell my circumstances that they are not the boss of me.

 

Reading Jesus

September 16th, 2015 by Maureen

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. Jn 5:39-40

Jesus understood God’s purpose for inspiring scripture yet He didn’t leave any written documents Himself. He was the living Word on earth. He was the fulfillment of what God communicated to humans through Old Testament scripture. All scripture points to Christ. If He is not the lens through which we view the messages of scripture, if He is not the heart from which we receive the meaning in scripture, simply reading scripture will not bring life and health to our minds and spirits.

Lord, help me grow in Christ through the words You inspired.

Because Jesus.

September 15th, 2015 by Maureen

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand and rejoice in the hope of sharing the glory of God. Rom. 5:1

That His grace is enough is the beginning point for a Christ-centered perspective. What if every idea, every project, every response began with the understanding that Jesus is the initiator of grace, of justification, of hope, of peace, of glory, of faith itself. There is no need for us to improve on what God has already done for us.  Whatever we plan, create, or achieve are responses to the love and grace Christ has already poured out on us.

Lord, I trust Christ. I rest in His grace. I placing my complete faith His finished work. This brings me real peace and I am grateful.

Prayer is not magic incantation

September 14th, 2015 by Maureen

For when two are more are gathered I am there in the midst of them. Matt. 18:20

This verse is often used to imply that somehow corporate prayer is more effective than personal prayer. Read in context, Jesus was talking about a specific Hebrew tradition involving the need for witnesses in resolving disputes and reconciling the parties involved. While prayer with another person can cause His love and concern to feel more tangible, praying with others isn’t a magic formula for getting what we want from God. God is present in us so we don’t need a crowd to invoke His presence. God wants to communicate with us so we don’t need specific words, postures, or some magic number of participants in order to get His attention. It’s His great pleasure to give us His Son, His Kingdom, and everything we need. God doesn’t get off on seeing us beg.

Lord, thank You for dwelling in me and giving me good gifts even before I even ask.

Community wouldn’t be the same without you

September 13th, 2015 by Maureen

Father, may they all be one as you Father are in me and I am in You, that they might also be in Us so that the world will believe that You have sent Me. Jn 17:21

Community reveals aspects of God’s love, nature, and goodness that speak to the human need to belong. Perhaps community is a way to experience love in a similar way that the Trinity experiences one another. While remaining distinctly ourselves, we become part of an entity that would not be the same without us. And we would not be the same without being part of that community. In community we comfort one another, encourage one another, and restore one another. Our individual experiences in Him become the celebration stories of the whole community. We grow, learn, and become through the loving synergy of belonging.

Lord, thank you for loving community and inseparable connections.

 

Some people are like cool breezy Saturdays

September 12th, 2015 by Maureen

They have been a breath of fresh air for me as I know they are for you, so respect and honor those like them. 1 Cor. 16:18

Certain people in our lives are like the cool, refreshing breeze that blew into town last night. Their happiness, generosity, contentment, compassion, and confidence has a calming yet energizing effect on those around them.  Because they seek good, they see good, and because they see good they communicate good ideas and bring good vibes with them. Without reservation, these people love and enjoy God, other people, and life itself.

Lord, I want to be one of those cool, breezy Saturday people.

Delight changes desire

September 11th, 2015 by Maureen

Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Ps. 37:4

The real joy  is not in gaining what we desire but in the delightful journey towards it. In fact, delighting in the Lord over a period of time is likely to alter the desires of our hearts. The more aware we are of His delightful presence in each moment of our lives, the more we soak up His personality and see through His eyes. His desires become our own. This is a somewhat more organic and enjoyable process than simply doing what we perceive to be His will because we are supposed to.

Lord, to know You deeply and fully is the desire of my heart.

 

Jesus is God’s “Yes” man

September 10th, 2015 by Maureen

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. 2 Cor. 1:20

The Father answered Jesus’ prayer with “Yes!” We can pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples pre-resurrection as it is fulfilled for us post-resurrection.  “Thank you for fulfilling your promise of redemption and making us on earth as You see us from heaven. Thank You for our daily bread, for forgiving all our sins, for providing us the grace to forgive others, for the power to resist temptation, and thank you for completely defeating the evil one.”

Thank you for the “Yes” that echoes through eternity from before the foundation of the world: Jesus!

No fashion sense

September 9th, 2015 by Maureen

Dress the new self, created in God’s likeness, in righteousness, holiness, and truth. Eph. 4:24

We wear new clothes made of a material called righteousness, sewn with thread of holiness, washed in truth. We can’t make clothes like this. We don’t have the material, the skill, or the means. Like the prodigal who comes home to His father in rags, our Father asks our brother Jesus to dress us like His children. Unlike the resentful brother in the parable, Jesus joyfully brings out the best new clothes and helps us dress in something that is so comfortable and just fits. It’s probably not the outfit we’d pick for ourselves either. Meaning well, we might tend toward overly formal, scratchy, flashy religious outfits or screaming slogan t-shirts. Not only can we not come up with the fabric, we aren’t that great at picking clothes or  dressing ourselves either.

Lord, I surrender myself to your capable hands.

 

 

 

Identitified

September 8th, 2015 by Maureen

These claims are valid, even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, and you don’t know this about me. Jn. 8:14 (NLT)

We are in on something Jesus’ audience was not. We know where Jesus came from and where He is now. We know His plan to reconcile us to Himself is complete. We also know where we came from: not just our individual, personal histories, but His loving intentions to identify us with Himself from before each of us was even born. Knowing our origin leads to understanding our true identities; and this is the perspective from which every other truth gains meaning. Knowing where we are going powerfully affects priorities and decision-making.

Lord,  help me to process and respond to everything I encounter in this day like a child of God.