Archive for the ‘James’ Category

The light never goes out

October 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

For centuries theologians and philosophers have been trying to explain why we still experience pain, suffering, and uncertainty if God is always good. I don’t have a good answer but I’m not sure easy answers or catch-all explanations are good or perfect responses when someone is hurting anyway.
Maybe the best we can do is simply believe that God is always good;
that He desires good for us;
that any good that we experience is from Him;
that the potential for good to come from evil exists in Him.
God can bring good to the worst possible scenario.
Look what He did with crucifixion and legalism.
We can’t predict or control the next crisis that comes along in our lives
but we can always find perfect peace, comfort, and stability in Christ.

Lord, help me stay in Your light when the shadows shift.

God is a creative problem solver

January 9th, 2017 by Maureen

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  James 1:5-6a

When we seek God’s wisdom in decision-making we have to be open-ended. Presenting Him with a list of pros and cons is like asking God a true-false question. God is a higher level thinker and creative problem solver. He’s into essay questions. Often instead of giving us answers we discover that we are already in the middle of His solution.

Lord, out of everything I do know and everything I haven’t even considered, open my heart and mind and vision to Your solutions.

Life is impromptu

July 31st, 2016 by Maureen

You say, “Tomorrow we will go to a certain city and stay there a year to do business and make a profit.” You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. James 4:13-14a

Expect the unexpected because the unexpected is definitely expecting you. It’s not bad to make plans but it’s a mistake to expect them to play out in real life the way they do in your head. Even contingency plans end up tweaked or scrapped. If satisfaction depends on smooth execution of plans, get used to frustration and disappointment. Breathe.  Accept. Adapt. Enjoy. There is more than one way to get there and God knows them all.

Lord, help me to be flexible and nimble when plans fall through.

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.

God actually can fix stupid

December 28th, 2015 by Maureen

If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God who gives to everyone generously, without reproach, and God will give it. James 1:5

10 examples of stupidity (there are millions)

1. jump into projects without enough research

2. overestimate our own knowledge

3. fail to listen

4. don’t ask for help

5. react out of fear

6. respond with only our hearts, only our heads, or only some other organ…

7. make assumptions

8. judge

9. feed our impulses

10.compartmentalize

Trying to manage our own stupidity is like pushing ourselves around in a revolving door. Didn’t do it that time… whoops, did it this time… barely missed stupid that time… and on and on. Getting wisdom isn’t about managing ourselves or the stupidity that surrounds us. Succeeding in not doing something is hardly a constructive or transcendent experience. God has forgiven and transformed us so that we are not identified by some brand of stupid. Instead He has made us partakers in His nature so that our identities are in Him (not that’s transcendent!). As we focus and engage with Him we become more attuned to His voice and His perspective.

Lord, give me your wisdom, especially when stupid looks like a good idea.

8 “what if’s” that suck the light out of giving

December 24th, 2015 by Maureen

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. James 1:17

Sometimes gift-giving is full of stressful “what if’s?”.

  1. What if he or she thinks a gift card means lack of effort and equates lack of effort with lack of caring?
  2. What if your loved one doesn’t like the gift you picked out?
  3. What if you waited too long and it turns out the store is sold out of the one thing you know he or she wants?
  4. What if you opt for a donation in his or her name but your loved one buys you a nice gift?
  5. What if you all draw names, communicate price-limits, desired items, donations, etc. but there is that one person who is going to buy everybody something no matter what?
  6. What if somebody gives you a gift and you didn’t get them one so you have have to grab one of the unmarked obviously generic gifts you wrapped up just in case, and it’s obvious?
  7. What if you didn’t think to buy generic gifts?
  8. What if by the time it’s time to open the gifts all the joy and light seems to have been sucked from the experience?

Any one of these “what if’s” might result in somebody feeling bad. Or mad. Maybe we all need to just take a breath and remember that we are loved and we give gifts for our beloved family and friends because we love them. God loved us and gave us His perfect gift and doesn’t actually care what we items give each other as expressions of love and celebration. Lighten up.

Lord let whatever I give and whatever I receive be done in the light of your love.

 

Slow your roll and value the person over the opinion

July 19th, 2015 by Maureen

So, let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1:19

People seem to be very reactionary right now, responding with anger and judgment toward those with differing positions, or clamoring to make sure certain viewpoints are represented in the marketplace of ideas. This behavior is unlikely to change minds. It’s very easy to forget that behind each opinion are people who God loves just as much as He loves each of us. When we prioritize people over taking offense, making a point, or being right we slow down enough to listen. Compassionately, objectively, graciously listen.

Lord, teach me better listening skills.

 

 

Winter is coming. God has it.

June 11th, 2015 by Maureen

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

In the ancient world the movements of the sun, stars, and moon were linked to conditions that directly affected life and livelihood. Many cultures interpreted the coming of winter and fading of light as withdrawal or displeasure on the part of their gods of light. While God created the cycle of seasons and celestial movement, He sent his best and most perfect Gift to rescue us from relationships cycles based on fate, karma, or sacrifice. The degree of His love, grace, and provision for us is unchanging. Variation and shadow come from how we interpret what is happening to us and how we interpret God’s motives toward us in light of those events.

Lord, I ‘m so grateful for the Light of the world.

Father of lights

November 17th, 2014 by Maureen

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

God sheds light on us when we find ourselves in dark, uncertain places. His steady hand is never far when the ground beneath our feet gets shaky. He gives us crazy “aha” moments of illumination that cause us to change and grow. Though our own variations and shadows of turning sometimes cause us to lose awareness of the constant certainty of His loving presence, our Father keeps sending us gift after gift.

Lord, thank You for this beautiful barrage of good gifts.

 

Shift happens

August 2nd, 2014 by Maureen

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

Good and bad change happens in our lives, much of which may not be able to control, and through all this change God remains stable and faithful and true. He is just as good when bad things happen to us. His light is just as bright when all we can see is shadow. His love is just as constant when others reject us.

Lord, help me to keep looking into Your light when the shadows shift.

 

 

Bring out your dead

February 25th, 2014 by Maureen

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

All our life stories come with baggage.  If we hide and pretend, we may end up in a detective or horror story in which, eventually, somebody finds out where the bodies are buried. Jesus, our Hero, has already made us dead to our sins and our sins dead to us. What’s left is nothing more than troublesome ghosts. If we bring out our dead and live openly with one another we can enter into a healing journey, a sacred quest, a love story, a buddy tale, or some other kind of story.

Lord, tell a better story with my opened up life than I can tell by not telling.

 

Pure and genuine

April 17th, 2013 by Maureen

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

Imagine the impact if every person who loved Christ cared for just one child who needs an adult in his or her life. Helping one child is unlikely to solve the larger sociological problems that impact that child, but helping and caring can change the trajectory of that one life.

Lord, break my heart for the orphans You hold dear.

Message over motive

March 6th, 2013 by Maureen

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19

Sometimes when another person is speaking we are busy planning what we’re going to say next instead of listening. Sometimes we question their motives rather than extending the benefit of the doubt. This is especially true when we are angry, defensive, or anxious to get our way or make our point. Really listening objectively to the message is a healthy step toward reconciling conflict and communicating with love and grace.

Lord, help me listen faster than I speak.

Peace out

October 26th, 2012 by Maureen

For those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18

Peacemaking does not mean that we compromise our principles but that we surrender our anger, pride, and prejudices. So often the adrenaline that arises with conflict and the self-preservation mechanisms that kick into our emotions makes it impossible for our brains to process new information, receive truth, or think about the other people involved. Going into a conflict with love, humility, and grace sets up an environment where peacemaking can occur and truth can be received.

Lord, help me to make peace.

Words with friends

July 16th, 2012 by Maureen

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. James 3:2

Words are powerful. There are more words than actions that I wish I could take back. Most actions begin with words anyway. How we use our ability to communicate brings life or death into our relationships. Words reveal Jesus. Words express love. Words connect people. What if we spent as much effort getting our tongues under control as we do our diets or our finances?

Lord, help me speak words of life today.

Deep breaths

July 9th, 2012 by Maureen

Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. James 2:26

Nice analogy, James. Breathing is an involuntary function, providing oxygen to every cell in the body. Unlike other involuntary functions we can consciously incorporate breathing techniques to increase performance and reduce pain or stress. Shallow breathing is not a sign of good health. Our deliberate choices about how we love others and serve them affects our own spiritual well-being as well as the health of the body of Christ. Like deep breathing.

Lord, teach me to breathe deep and serve well.

Tests of faith

June 25th, 2012 by Maureen

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  James 1:3

If what we think of God is dependent on how nice He makes our lives or how obvious He makes His presence, tests of faith will affect what we believe about Him. It’s not about whether we are strong enough to stand against the tide alone but rather whether we will continue to trust in His power, love, and protection when the waves knock us down.

Lord, I know you are still for me and with me even when I feel vulnerable and alone.

Engage heart and head first

June 14th, 2012 by Maureen

And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue…James 3:4-5

Spoken words can change the course of a relationship. Before speaking it’s a good idea to ask:

“Should I say this?”

“How should I say this?”

“Should I say it now?”

“Where is saying this going to take us?”

Wrong words cannot be unsaid but better words can restore a relationship to a better course even if its not the direction it was originally taking.

Lord help my heart and head to engage before I speak.

Wise love, loving wisdom

May 19th, 2012 by Maureen

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James 3:17

Love is patient and kind…It does not demand its own way and keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. I Cor. 13: 4-6 (Par.)

Jesus showed the wisest love and most loving wisdom the world has ever seen.

Lord, help me to be lovingly wise and wisely loving.

Creative problem-solving God’s way

February 10th, 2012 by Maureen

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  James 1:5-6a

When we seek God’s wisdom in decision-making we have to be open-ended. Presenting Him with a list of pros and cons is like asking God a multiple choice question. God is a higher level thinker and creative problem solver. He’s into essay questions.

Lord, out of everything I do know and everything I haven’t even considered, show me what to do.