Archive for March, 2016

Legitimate three-way love fest

March 31st, 2016 by Maureen

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

What we say and the way we say it can change someone’s day for better or for worse. Our sincere words of kindness and encouragement can promote healing in one another’s lives. We are more likely to notice all the positive, gracious moments in our own lives when we help create them for other people. Kindness makes us collaborative participants in God’s love for someone else.

Lord help me to sweeten someone’s day.

Life moves pretty fast…stop and look around

March 30th, 2016 by Maureen

O Lord, what a variety of things you have made!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the ocean, vast and wide,
teeming with life of every kind,
both large and small. – Ps. 104:24-25

Today’s devotional comes courtesy of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it.” Take 5 minutes. Look around. Be amazed. Give thanks.

Lord, I am amazed by You and all You’ve made. Thanks.

Join the song

March 28th, 2016 by Maureen

Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing to the Lord all the earth. Ps. 96:1

Some of our most companionable moments are when we listen to music with someone we love. Our Father is a music lover. Every day new songs are sung in forests and fields, at the seashore and in the mountains, in parks and in our back yards. Sometimes by solo artists, sometimes by a symphony. If you are stuck inside can’t find ten minutes to sit outside and listen to birds, water, wind and all the earth sing, here’s a YouTube. Close your eyes and listen. Our Father sets the rhythm with His own heartbeat and His creation can’t help but respond. Let your heart sing along.

Father, I hear and my heart sings with Yours.

Divine being seeking human

March 28th, 2016 by Maureen

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:15

The same God who spoke the oceans into being wants us to be His friends and family…and He’s not even desperate! God isn’t needy but He is loving and that love is magnetic. It attracts all that bear His image from His original creation. He still He wants us to really get to know His personality and share His thoughts. God wants to involve us in His plans and make us insiders in His amazing kingdom.

Lord, thank you for making me Your friend and child.

Live like Easter happened

March 27th, 2016 by Maureen

Now is the judgment; now will the ruler of this world be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself. Jn. 12:30-31

The death and resurrection of Christ was the most powerful and unique event in all the history of God’s creation. At that moment Satan was judged and the eternally corrupting power of sin was broken. Our sins were forgiven and we were restored. For Jesus’ disciples, on Good Friday it looked like evil had won. We have the benefit of an Easter perspective. Yes, evil still has some temporary influence on this earth, but, if we can trust Christ’s Easter victory with everything in our lives and the lives of the ones we love.

Lord, help me to live every day like Easter Sunday has already happened.

A Saturday for reviving dead dreams

March 26th, 2016 by Maureen

They took Jesus body down, wrapped it in linen and laid it in a tomb. A stone was rolled against the entrance. Mark 15:46, John 19:38-42

Those who followed and loved Jesus must have been devastated. Those who hoped He was the Messiah sent to deliver them from oppression must have been so disappointed. The impact of His crucifixion on their personal lives was far greater than any failed venture or personal risk they’d taken before. Not only had following Him required sacrifice and investment, they had staked their very souls on Jesus being right and now all the evidence shouted against that. Saturdays like this are long and hard. When hope is gone, the post-mortem on loss brings fear, doubt, guilt, blame, resentment, frustration, and/or despair. Sometimes we move on more cautious and cynical than we were before. When hope and faith start to look naive, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a reminder that there is evidence we cannot see and that our hopes still have substance.

Lord, help me to keep believing, praying, and dreaming through silent Saturdays. Help me to expect more.

Good Friday on the time-space continuum

March 25th, 2016 by Maureen

Pilate: What shall I do with Jesus, called the Christ? The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him….And Jesus having again cried with a great voice, yielded the spirit; and lo, the veil of the sanctuary was rent in two from top unto bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent. Matt 27

The cross was a concrete moment in time but it is also an experience happening outside of time. God exists and functions outside of time as well as within it. Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday in Palestine sometime between 30 and 33 A.D. yet Jesus Christ was crucified before the world was made. Rev. 13:8 calls Him the “Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1 explains that Jesus Christ was foreknown before the world was made and fortold by Old Testament prophets. Paul explains the same thing in Ephesians 1 and goes on to explain that before God even made us His intentions for us is an existence within the communion and love of Father, Christ, and Holy Spirit, as Jesus explains in John 17, has always existed. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of His Kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is an pre-creation experience within the Triune Godhead, a predicted event from the mysterious promise issued in Genesis 3:15 up until it became a historic event. Time and eternity converged in that moment and expelled enough energy to cause earthquakes and the symbolically split the dividing curtain between heaven and earth caused the evil. At this moment the eternally foreknown and foretold became present reality and a continuously happening present event as each person who recognizes His grace and embraces reconciliation to God through Christ. As each of us experiences His crucifixion as a personal event we are then continuously reconciled to what has already taken place on our behalf.

God, thank You for always and forever loving me.

Easter words

March 24th, 2016 by Maureen

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD.” I Cor. 1:30-31 NKJ

Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are big beautiful words that express the results of Christ’s death and resurrection. We become what we cannot be because of Christ. Every moment that we experience His transforming presence is a celebration of Easter.

Lord help me to venture deeper into your wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

Abstractly concrete or concretely abstract Jesus

March 23rd, 2016 by Maureen

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Jn. 3:16

Believe. Abstract, immeasurable idea. Love motivated grace (more abstracts) to accomplish redemption (abstract again) in the form of a Human Being (concrete yet divine[abstract]) who lived on earth (concrete) in a particular place (more concrete) at a particular time. Redemption is abstract and yet concrete, and deeply personal. Like a relationship in which some things are evident and explainable while others remain invisible and inexplicable. Easter is a great time to celebrate the concrete Savior and events that redeem us and to appreciate God’s unique, immeasurable attributes and relationships with each of us that reflect abstract realities like love, grace and belief.

Lord, thanks, for what You did and how You did it for and in each of us.

Sometimes we need consolation and restoration more than reasons

March 22nd, 2016 by Maureen

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Ps. 143:3

Jesus didn’t come to explain evil, He came to redeem and defeat it. So terrible things happen and we ask, “Where where You, God? Why didn’t you stop it? How is evil defeated in light of this?” These are reasonable questions. We develop philosophical and theological theories to try and explain but we don’t know; and the vague, simplistic answers we come up with barely satisfy our minds, and do very little for our emotional or spiritual distress. Our pondering often diverts us from receiving the consolation or restoration that can have positive impact on our lives. Being able to trust God is sometimes all that keeps us from despair, bitterness, and confusion and not trusting Him is not going to yield any definitive explanations for the root of why bad things happen.

Lord, heal the brokenhearted and find up our wounds. Bring comfort and peace in the midst of questions.

God’s dancing tent

March 20th, 2016 by Maureen

You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. Ps. 104:2

Spring is a beautiful tent. Beautiful blue skies, nature in bloom, more light in the day speak of a life-giving God. God is in the pulse of each day, experience the rhythm of His pulse in the sights and sounds and breath of His creation. Sink into His garment and soak up the warmth. He spread out this tent today. Dance under it.

Father, I love You and appreciate Your beautiful handiwork. Dance with me under the tent.

Job 38 and Psalm 104: It’s not just what they say and it’s the tone

March 19th, 2016 by Maureen

Who by wisdom can count the clouds, and who can tip over the water jars of heaven, when the dust hardens into a mass, and the clumps of earth stick together? Job. 38: 37

You [God] water the hills from Your chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. Ps. 104:13

There is a cool correlation between Job 38 and Psalms 104. In Job 38 God asks a series of rhetorical questions concerning His sovereignty and power. In wonder and delight, the psalmist in 104 answers those questions acknowledging God’s sovereignty and His joy. Up until chapter 38, Job is 37 chapters of Job’s misery and whining punctuated by Job and his friends trying to figure out why his life went to hell in a hand-basket. They seek to assign blame for the mess, mostly assuming God has withdrawn from Job because Job failed to adhere to some religious requirement. They conjecture about what Job needs to do to regain God’s favor, and hopefully get back all he has lost too. Then God shows up in Job 38 and basically schools Job and his friends for pontificating over things they don’t understand and, God never explains the “why.” The tone of Job is anguish and frustration. The tone of Psalm 104 is awe and joy. Accepting the ambiguity and messiness that happens in life and focusing on God’s love, power, and grace rather than seeking to explain or somehow control circumstances might lead to a happier, less stressful tone in our own lives.

Lord, Your glory endures and I will rejoice with You in Your works.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

March 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Put on the whole armor of God that I might withstand the wiles of the devil. Eph 6:11 I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s host to shield me – from the Breastplate of St. Patrick

Written sometime between the 4th and 9th centuries, this ancient prayer is thought to be a response to the Ephesians passage about the whole armor of God. The emphasis is on God’s protecting power rather than on the strength or the perspective of the wearer. The armor He clothes us in might look as flimsy as tattered robes. His protection may even look like it’s failed, the way the cross looked on Good Friday. But God is the victor over death, hell, and the grave while the devil can only point at death, hell and the grave as if they have the last word over God. We can trust His protection and strength no matter what.

Lord, help me to  stand clad in the protection You’ve provided me viewing everything that comes through an eternal lens.

The words on your heart and soul tattoo

March 15th, 2016 by Maureen

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death. Song of Solomon 8:6a

The lovers in Song of Solomon wanted to commemorate their love with some sort of permanent mark. People get loved ones names tattooed on their bodies. People have chips embedded into their pets and engrave their names on prize possessions to make sure they return to them if they are ever lost or stolen. His body is marked with His love for us. Jesus has inked His love on our hearts and souls.  Jesus love for us is so strong it defeated death; His love is strong enough to redeem us even if we forget how to read our own hearts.

Lord, I am so glad that You’ve written your love on me.

Public opinion doesn’t make an idea true

March 14th, 2016 by Maureen

And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ If we say from men then the people will revolt because they all considered John to be a real prophet.”  Answering Jesus they said “we do not know.” and Jesus answered “And nor will I tell you.” Mark 11:29-33

Every day people use this sort of logic to settle on opinions or avoid giving them. But this isn’t really logical thinking because the opinion is driven by the anticipated response rather than starting with a given truth. We fear expressing our real thoughts and opinions because we are afraid of how people will respond and how those responses will affect our influence. Sometimes we refuse to submit our truths to logical thinking or to objectively explore other points of view because we are afraid of where it will take us. We need be afraid of thinking and exploring ideas. Logic emanates from God just like all good things do. His Spirit is there to lead us into all truth.

Lord, help me to be fearless and reasonable in presenting Your truth as I understand it.

Fulfilling faith

March 13th, 2016 by Maureen

…and these all (the Hebrews who are in all the Old Testament stories) were faithful because of their trusting but did not receive what was promised because God had planned something better that would involve all of us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Heb. 11:39-40

God loved the Ancient Hebrews. He gave them the law and guided their journey in a unique way that lent context to Jesus’ experiences on Earth. But exclusivity was never God’s intent. He so loved “the world,” not just the Hebrews. Jesus said it and Paul emphasized it. The promise is for every single one of us and Jesus fulfilled the promise. For us post-resurrection people receiving is a matter of believing something that already is, not something that is going to happen later. Back at the beginning of this same chapter faith is defined “as substance of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” The substance and evidence is the redeeming Christ crucified, and something better than the Hebrew law and exclusive faith experience is happening now. We can experience fulfillment because Jesus fulfilled the promise.

Lord, I believe, help me to see and to live the promise fulfilled in all the areas in my life and perspective that seem unfinished to me.

Horizontal grace

March 12th, 2016 by Maureen

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Eph.4:2

The biggest obstacle to renewal or repentance when we mess up isn’t our vertical relationships with God but our horizontal relationships with others. Jesus doesn’t have to be re-crucified every time somebody messes up. God’s grace doesn’t have to be earned again (as if we earned it in the first place). His grace is big enough to stretch over our most epic fails. The surest way to keep someone who is in need of restoration stuck where they are is to concoct some elaborate system for earning back our good graces or make the relationship about “fixing the flaw.” What would happen if horizontal grace was as gracious as vertical grace?

Lord, when I mess up help me to receive Your grace and to extend it to others when they mess up.

It helps to have connections

March 8th, 2016 by Maureen

Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. Rom 15:32

God loves us and that is encouraging. Love is more than something God does, God is love. And because we are not just with in but we are also in Him, He includes all of us in this interconnected, infinite state of being that is love, and that is life-changing. Sometimes when our circumstances offer evidence for a much more negative interpretation of reality, we don’t feel the love connection we know and believe is with us and in us. That’s when we need connected friends the most. We are meant to give one another courage in fearful times, to inspire each other when everyone is tired, and to bring joy when the mood is bleak. This doesn’t always require words. Sometimes all encouragement means is being consciously and openly present in His love.

Lord, help me to speak encouraging words today.

A little spiritual cinematography

March 7th, 2016 by Maureen

If we walk in the light as our Father God is in the light we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 Jn. 1:7

Cinematographers can affect the tone and mood of a scene by the way the scene is lit and the lenses they choose to use on the cameras. As an audience we are frequently unaware of how much our emotional and intellectual responses to a film are influenced by these artistic choices. In much the same way our responses to life experiences and the people around us are influenced by spiritual lenses and light. There may be lots of seemingly valid reasons to see and respond to others through lenses of fear and sadness in a dim and fading light, but if we see others as God see, through a lens of grace, lit by the love of Christ, we are going to think, feel and respond differently.

Lord, help me to continually view life through the lens of grace in the redemptive lighting You provide.

Living large is living love

March 6th, 2016 by Maureen

Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison. 32 Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating Be imitators of God as His dear children and live in love just as Christ loved us. Eph. 4:31-5:1

Christianity is not about “us vs. them” and who’s “in” and who’s “out” and why. It’s not about “better than and less than” competitiveness in terms of doctrine or adherence to doctrine. Christianity is not just acknowledging that love has a place at the table it’s understanding that love is the whole room.

Lord, I want to live in love, to feed on it, inhale it and breathe it back out.