Archive for May, 2016

For His glory, by His grace, out of His love Kingdom

May 29th, 2016 by Maureen

You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. Heb. 10:34

The better things Jesus has for us now and forever is better than what we expect or make up for ourselves. The best the Hebrews could hope for was a Messiah who would be a military and political victor who would free them to establish a nation where they could attempt to serve God and practice the law perfectly. Jesus offered them something better: a kingdom of grace and transformation. There is a better thing than law and religion for those who follow Christ. There is a present now and ever-shall-be-world-without-end-amen Kingdom established for His glory, by His grace, out of His love. There is an authentic, transformed life as a beloved child of the King Himself.

Lord, help me grasp what it means to live as if Your Kingdom has come.

Prayer is not a gift exchange

May 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation of shadow caused by change. James 1:17

The Creator spoke, a flash of light, and the world began. The Maker looked at all He had made and said that it was good. Perhaps “Father of lights” is used here to reference the first “let there be light” creation. The next verse goes to say that He brought us into being through His Word and that we are a kind of first fruits of all He created. Jesus eternally defines us as new and good creations and eternally establishes a new covenant of grace that describes our relationship with God. Just as Jesus destroys the old man, He also negates the old covenant based in sacrifice, offering, and negotiation. According to this passage, our inability or unwillingness to accept that receiving from God really doesn’t require “something in return” (vs. 5) from us is what is mucks up prayer and faith for us.

Lord, I keep making it harder than it is, help me to simply trust and believe.

So hope

May 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Ps. 25:5

We are not the finishers of our own faith or the earners of our own salvation. Neither are we alone in what we deal with day by day. As opportunities and choices present themselves throughout the day Jesus is our hope. As we deal with unexpected and unwelcome problems and griefs, Jesus is our hope. Hope is more than optimism we conjure up through positive self-talk or claiming victory in prayer or effective management of situations. Hope exists in the person of Jesus Christ. The truth of Who Christ is and who He has made each of us through His work of redemption at the cross is the cause of hope, causing both the reason and the ability to hope.

Lord, I can only hope because You put Your hope in me. Teach me to tap into that.

Are you in your renewed mind?

May 22nd, 2016 by Maureen

Do not be conformed to the pattern of this word but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern God’s purposes, what is good, pleasing, and perfect. Rom 12:2

Our past experiences in this world along with our families, our various social, educational, religious, and political communities, our geographical regions, and even media we consume help form patterns of perceptions and perspectives. Some of these perspectives and perceptions are so deeply ingrained patterns in our thinking that we sometimes react out of habit rather than conscious awareness. We can choose to keep thinking this way or we can consider the possibility that we are out of our renewed minds.  Redemption gives us the mind of Christ so we have new default settings, but it can take awhile for these perspectives and perceptions to become patterns. As we choose to focus on Christ and become consciously aware and attuned of His new way of thinking our default responses come from our renewed minds.

Lord, keep me in my right and renewed mind.

We are family

May 20th, 2016 by Maureen

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 Jn. 3:1

God has made us more than subjects of a King or citizens of a Kingdom. He is all about relationship and His love has caused us to be related to Him and to one another as children and heirs. He established a family relationship between Himself and us. Then God put together people who aren’t related and made them family. Faith communities become families. Whatever else we are to one another, whether it be friend, neighbor, teammate, boss, service provider, support staff, business associate, student, teacher, colleague, salesperson, artisan, entertainer, or any other role, we are also family. What a blessing to know that none of us are alone and that all of us are connected on a deep level because of God’s love for us.

Lord, thanks for the family y ou’ve formed for me.

Empathy 101

May 19th, 2016 by Maureen

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 2 Cor. 3b-4a

Sometimes our responses to the sorrow of others is to try and cheer them up, as through there is something illegitimate, weak or embarrassing about sorrow. Occasionally we all need someone who knows and loves us to say “snap out of it” because we are enjoying the blues a bit too much or to intervene when we are spiraling. It is not empathy, however, to dismiss other people’s sorrows because they make us uncomfortable or cause us inconvenience. Jesus’ response to his friends’ troubles was to show up with help, hope, and friendship… and sometimes He wept with them. Christ still shows up for us when we are hurting. He cares about us when we experience sadness and depression. We affirm the heart of Christ for others when we are willing to mourn with those who mourn. This is empathy.

Holy Spirit, help me to enter into the experiences of my friends who are sad and teach me how to respond in ways that brings real comfort and peace.

Changing the filter

May 18th, 2016 by Maureen

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Titus 1:15

Perspective is a huge part of how we process what we encounter on life’s journey. Our own particular set of fears, disappointments, prejudices and temptations gunk up the filter on our reactions and attitudes in relationships and life experiences. Jesus replaces the filter on our hearts so that we are free to process life fearlessly, joyfully and wisely. Jesus opens our clogged hearts and minds so that we can love others with pure hearts.

Jesus, give me a pure heart.

Influential people

May 16th, 2016 by Maureen

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Prov. 2:10-11

A person doesn’t have to be famous to be profoundly influential. Young people need great mentors and teachers to equip them with knowledge, wisdom, and truth that will help them live with passion and integrity, creativity and awareness. They need trusting relationships with people who love Jesus and love them. We all need those influential friends throughout our lives who keep us grounded and inspired.

Lord, I am so grateful for the network of relationships that influence my life and the lives of my loved ones. Lord, bless each one!

Behold now the Kingdom

May 15th, 2016 by Maureen

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. Is. 61:1, Luke 4:18-19

Jesus read this and said: “today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” This was His mission statement, His proclamation of His advancing kingdom. When our Spirit-led lifestyles, relationships, words, and deeds are a response to citizenship in His present kingdom our natural response to others is to  desire freedom, vision, and blessing for them. The great commission is inviting participation in the hope and joy of His fulfilled work of grace and redemption, His present and advancing Kingdom.

Lord, help me to focus on Your priorities and Your mission.

A safe house

May 14th, 2016 by Maureen

You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place. Ps. 31:8

Safe houses are not always the most luxurious and are meant to be temporary sanctuary not permanent homes. It’s easy to forget that an enemy exists who, though defeated, is still doing real damage that God continues to address in our lives and in the lives of others. His provision and protection may not result in completely comfortable, stress-free lifestyles all the time, but His peace and hope are always available no matter what we are experiencing.

Lord, thank you for my soul’s safe place.

Safe house

May 14th, 2016 by Maureen

You have not handed me over to my enemies but have set me in a safe place. Ps. 31:8

Safe houses are not always the most luxurious and are meant to be temporary sanctuary not permanent homes. It’s easy to forget that an enemy exists who, though defeated, is still doing real damage that God continues to address in our lives and in the lives of others. His provision and protection may not result in completely comfortable, stress-free lifestyles all the time, but His peace and hope are always available no matter what we are experiencing.

Lord, thank you for always being my soul’s safe place.

Motive and opportunity

May 12th, 2016 by Maureen

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Gal. 5:6b

The opportunity to speak directly about our faith simply provides clarification about the love already evident in our lives and relationships. What we really believe is expressed in the way we go about our lives: forming relationships, having conversations, doing work, learning, relaxing, celebrating, and dealing with conflict. If “God so loved…” is the motivation behind the act of redemption enacted by Father, Son, and Spirit, then it makes sense that love be the main idea we express and be our motivation for expressing it.

Lord, help me grow in both my faith and my love.

God > hope suckers

May 10th, 2016 by Maureen

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13

Things go wrong. Illness drags on. Money runs out.  The needle hasn’t budged. Day-in-day-out shows no sign of letting up. Prayer brings no relief. We question, we doubt, we might even get angry because we can’t reconcile God’s love and power with the mess we see. We know we’re supposed be noble and patient, so then we feel guilty on top of our existing distress. God is not going to be mad or disappointed when we bring our questions and trust issues. These are just like our other troubles and needs. He loves us. He might not answer our questions but His Spirit has the power to help us experience joy, peace, and even confidence, in the midst of unanswered questions and relentless stressors.

Lord, I trust You with all my problems and with my all my doubts.

See the lily, be the lily

May 9th, 2016 by Maureen

Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

There is a difference between moving in concert with God and making our own concerted efforts to move for God. When we stop trying to measure up to human definitions of beauty, glory, or worth we discover the infinite beauty, glory, and worth of being our authentic, restored, created selves. When we stop trying to prove our devotion and to earn His pleasure through our own try-hard efforts we discover the incredible lightness of being yoked to Christ whose gracious work of righteousness is enough to make us lilies.

Lord, help me to be aware of the beauty, the glory, and the worth in which you have arrayed me.

Mothering is a balance of gathering in and letting go

May 8th, 2016 by Maureen

…just as a mother eagle stirs up its nest, encouraging its young to fly, and then hovers over them in case they need help, and spreads its wings and catches them if they fall, and carries them up high on her wings. Deut. 32:11 How I long to gather you like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you refuse. Matt. 23:37 (The Voice)

Mothers nurture, comfort, and hold onto their children because they want to protect them. Mothers teach, equip, and let go of their children because they want to see them soar. Learning when and how to let go, and when and how to gather in is one of the biggest challenges of motherhood. Every child is different, every flight is different. We can be comforted in knowing that God really does know exactly how we feel; and that when we experience these feelings about our children we are sharing the very heart and mind of God.

*If you are the child of a mother who let go too much for you, or gathered in too much for you, or just couldn’t or wouldn’t figure motherhood out at all, forgive her and let yourself be mothered by the God who gets you and knows you. He can be a good good mother too.

Thank you, God for being the mother I always needed as well as the Father.

 

Family resemblance

May 5th, 2016 by Maureen

I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord; therefore, I obey your instructions. Ps. 119:15

It’s pretty simple: if we think about God and spend time with Him we tend to reflect His ideas and nature. It’s not about doing what we “ought” to do or following rules, it’s about embracing our identities as children of God, transformed by His nature and His nurture. But, if we’re honest, a lot of our thoughts, responses, and desires seem counterproductive to Who God is, to who we are because of Him, and to what God’s Spirit is doing in us and around us. Reflecting on the nature of God and identifying with Him helps us sort out all those contradictory thoughts so that we respond to situations and make decisions in ways that are consistent with who we now are as children who look like their Dad, who is Love.

Lord, be present in my thought life.

Change your plans but not your dreams

May 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Prov. 13:12

Sometimes our plans seem to be drowning in setbacks and delays that cause us to doubt our dreams and give up hope. But there is a different between dreams and plans. Plans are only a way toward fulfillment of our dreams, not the dreams themselves. God is so much bigger than our plans and so much stronger and more creative than our imperfect execution of them. We can trust God with our plans because He is the giver of our best and most personally fulfilling dreams.

Lord, help me be flexible in my plans but steadfast in my dreams.

The Love that won’t abandon us

May 1st, 2016 by Maureen

Who separates us from the love of Christ? Can tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or weapons. Rom. 8:35

Can internal stress or crisis (personal or global) or mean, stupid, selfish people or past traumas or present threats or economic uncertainties or disasters or sickness or terrorism or simple inconveniences and annoyances separate us from the love of Christ either? No matter what we might put on the list, though the consequences are real and painful and the hurt we feel is absolutely legitimate, none of these experiences or feelings indicate that God doesn’t love us or that He has abandoned us. God is Love, restoring, comforting Love, when we feel overwhelmed and threatened.

Lord, when crisis hits and I feel separate and alone in it help me to emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and even physically experience the Love that You Are.