Archive for the ‘Matthew’ Category

The economics of the kingdom of heaven

May 24th, 2017 by Maureen

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, He went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matt. 13:44-45

This is a parable, a metaphoric story told to illustrate a lesson. On the one hand, it could mean the Father estimates our worth as equivalent to His own Son. On the other hand, it could mean that we humans are motivated to pursue the things we perceive as valuable and this invisible kingdom of heaven is worth everything else we value. Either way, in the economy of love and grace, there is an infinite, unique Godhead (Father-Christ-Spirit) with an eternal reign and limitless assets assigning great value to both the kingdom of heaven which seems to be this invisible, undefined awareness of the interconnected relationship of human beings with God and with each other borne of faith; and to each of the estimated 108.2 billion human beings who have ever lived, most of whom can’t quite fully grasp the concept of the kingdom even if they believe it is real.

Lord, thanks for valuing me.

Pirates called Moth and Rust

May 8th, 2017 by Maureen

Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Matt.6:20

Hours and hours of stress and energy are spent figuring out how to hold on to the things we treasure. Fear of loss can prevent us from fully resting in God’s grace, fully trusting in God’s provision, and fully surrendering control over what we love to the Father who loves us. There is a false sense of control and possession in holding tight and worrying over the stuff that matters to us, as though our efforts are all that’s keeping our treasure from slipping away. In reality, God is the maker and provider of treasure – and the One who helps us determine what deserves to be called “treasure.” Our misplaced priorities and efforts are the moths and rust that steal the joy and benefit from having treasure.

Lord, thank you for helping me see the pearl in the wound and the diamond in the coal already on earth as it is in heaven.

Questionable

April 26th, 2017 by Maureen

No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. Matt. 22:46

Is blind obedience the same thing as trust? The Pharisees didn’t want to be questioned. They didn’t want to consider or receive what Jesus was saying so they asked rhetorical questions they thought would trap Him into saying something they could use against Him. Instead of answering, Jesus answered their questions with questions they couldn’t answer. This shut them up. Does this imply that God doesn’t want us to ask questions? I don’t think God doesn’t want us to be curious or ask questions, but I do think He wants us to trust Him and He knows why we have the questions we do. If Jesus followers had been unsatisfied with the Pharisees’ answers; had they not been curious and asked questions, the Pharisees would still be exerting unquestioned authority. When you trust somebody you can ask them anything.

Lord, thanks for all the questions that got me where I am now.

Go native

March 10th, 2017 by Maureen

May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matt. 6:10

Jesus came to make us citizens of a kingdom that already exists in His loving unity with the Father and Spirit. His will isn’t that we pass a citizenship test for the kingdom of God based on dogma, but that we experience a transformative reconciliation to God in our spirits enacted by His grace. Our actions, attitudes, and choices as kingdom citizens are reflect our spiritual transformation not our commitment to behavioral modification or continuous improvement.

Lord, may Your Kingdom be as real in my spirit and life as it is in Yours.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel…

December 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Angel of the Lord to Joseph: She will bear a son and you will call him Jesus…The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Matt. 1:21,23 and Is. 7:14

It is not our perceptions of Jesus that define Him, but how we individually process Who He Is does determine how each of us experiences His redemption and His presence.

יְהוֹשׁוּעַ – Hebrew – Yehoshua or Joshua literally means “he who saves, redeems, or delivers.” Even when we don’t recognize the ways in which we are threatened, bound, or limited, Jesus established freedom for us and continues His rescue mission into our hearts and minds.

עִמָּנוּאֵל – Immanuel means “with us is God.” Even when we don’t feel like He’s there, God is still with us to the very same extent that He is in those moments when His presence feels absolutely tangible to us. How can we be separate from Him in whom we live and move and exist?

Jesus came to ransom our captive souls and end our lonely exiles.

Oh come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh bid our sad divisions cease,
And be Yourself our King of Peace.

Healing words from Matthew and Micah

November 9th, 2016 by Maureen

Love your neighbor as yourself. Matt 22:39 Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly. Micah 6:8

The president does not dictate whether or not we can love our neighbors. The laws of the land do not decide whether we choose to treat one another with fairness and graciousness. The policies of a government do not decide whether we choose to be generous and compassionate. The attitudes of politicians, the press, our favorite celebrities, or our neighbors do not dictate our responses. We still have the same choices today that we have always had: to love, to embrace justice, to extend mercy, and to exhibit humility and humanity.

Lord, inspire and guide each of us in loving our neighbors, all our neighbors.

Famous last words

August 28th, 2016 by Maureen

 

If I want him to remain alive until I come back, what concern is that of yours? (Jesus to Peter concerning John)  John 21:23

Behold I am sending the promise of my Father to you, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:49

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt. 28:20

Each of these gospels records different last words of Jesus, and each offers a different perspective. John records a personal conversation between Peter and Jesus, basically offering assurance that Jesus is interested and involved in our individual stories. Luke offers assurance that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit continue to communicate with us and will be our source and inspiration. Matthew simply says that no matter what happens throughout history, or through the passages of our own lives, Jesus is always, always with in.

Jesus, thank You for communicating to humans through Your life, Your words, and Your Spirit.

Squinting through life

August 11th, 2016 by Maureen

Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! Matt. 6:22-23

Nearsighted people tell stories about seeing trees for the first time through corrective lenses and being able to make out individual leaves and branches. We base our insights, responses, and plans on what we think we are looking at. If we are squinting distorted lenses of selfishness, fear, anger, inflexibility, hopelessness, and confusion then we may never know that the green blob we’ve been calling a monster is really a tree. In Christ we can see and respond to our world through His loving, truthful, hopeful, wondrous, and gracious 20-20 vision.

Lord, correct my flawed vision.

Transformation is not the same thing as improvement

July 14th, 2016 by Maureen

May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matt. 6:10

Jesus came to make us citizens of His kingdom not to give us a citizenship test we have to pass. His death and resurrections accomplishes transformative reconciliation to God.We can’t cause this change through successful adherence to disciplines and practices, through behavioral modification, or through improvement programs. Not to say those things can’t be valuable in improving our lives and relationships, but only Christ transforms us or make us new creations.  Our actions, attitudes, and choices as kingdom citizens reflect our awareness of our spiritual transformation, our adoption as sons and daughters, and our citizenship in His kingdom so that we become on earth as we’ve been made in heaven.

Lord, help me experience the reality of Your kingdom come. Give me greater insight into who I am in heaven and help me reflect that transformation in who I am on earth.

The currency of forgiveness

July 11th, 2016 by Maureen

And forgive our sins [trespasses, debts] as we have forgiven those who sin against us. Matt. 6:12

If the currency of forgiveness is not the cross – total, complete, unearned, and restorative – we are all screwed. Some of us have trouble forgiving because we ourselves are guilt-ridden and haven’t forgiven ourselves or felt forgiven by God or someone else. And some, in our pride, never feel the need to be forgiven. And some of us just enjoy feeling justified in our offended. Like so much else Jesus said to His friends who relied on law for redemption, the Lord’s prayer contained impossible challenges that only the power of Christ Himself make possible. We don’t earn forgiveness by forgiving others. While we still needed forgiveness, Christ forgave us. The powerful result of Christ’s loving, gracious forgiveness is reconciliation to God Himself. It is from the storehouse of this same abundant, unmerited grace that we draw when we forgive and seek forgiveness.

Lord, let me live and breathe Your grace.

If love defeats death and evil, it certainly can defeat hate

July 9th, 2016 by Maureen

I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matt. 5:44-45

From the sidelines it’s easy to label heroes and villains and to give out praise and judgment. But followers of Christ are called to love our neighbors be they police, protesters, victims, law-breakers, rioters, politicians, reporters, facebook posters, bystanders, or racists. In fact, manifesting His Love helps us eliminate the “us-them” mentality that must assign blame, justify ourselves, or categorize others. Eliminating “us-them” changes the way we look at and respond to one another. Any hope any of us have lies in the same love, the same three nails, the same empty tomb, the same risen Christ who came for each and every one of us.

Lord, when I don’t understand, when I don’t relate, when I simply don’t have another person’s perspective on the situation, let Your love and grace be my first response.

Counting hairs instead of splitting them.

July 7th, 2016 by Maureen

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Matt. 10:30

God has intense, personal love for each one of us. It’s reassuring and amazing to look at any crowd of people and realize that God knows how many hairs and tears and longings are represented. The Holy Spirit is always opening hearts and minds to the love and grace of Christ and inspiring other hearts  and minds to express His love and grace. Often the Holy Spirit brings together those who need to experience God and those who need to express Him. When that happens, when we get to be one of those people, counting hairs is way more important than splitting them.

Lord, let some unsuspecting head be filled with the wonder and beauty and magnitude of your love!

Sometimes you just have to rip off the band-aid

June 21st, 2016 by Maureen

How often I have wanted to gather you children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. Matt 23:37b

We all have our own emotional band-aids which may make us feel better temporarily, but are actually counter-productive to real healing. Covering the sore spot protects it the way our emotional band-aids offer temporary protection when we feel vulnerable and hurt. We sometimes resist the very things that would ultimately bring about healing because letting go of the things we’ve been using to cover the pain feels like ripping off a band-aid. Often healing the sore spot requires exposing it, examining it, treating it, and releasing it. God made our emotions and His kind and gentle love and wisdom can lead us to real emotional health and healing. He may immediately heal us or He may lead us to experiences and people who He can use to help us. Then don’t need the band-aids anymore.

Lord, show me how to accept your healing, help and protection when all I want is band-aids.

Change is the ultimate trust fall

June 19th, 2016 by Maureen

Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Matt 6:26 (Message)

Change can feel like all the ground has come out from underneath because there is no predictable future to step into. Because God is so big and cares so much about each one of us, we really can be careless in his care. “What’s next” is where it’s always been: in God’s hands. We don’t know where change will take us, things might not go we envision them, we might hit storms, we might make unplanned stops, but God really does have us, we just have to spread our wings and fly.

Lord, when I can’t feel the ground underneath me, help me to fly.

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.

 

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.

One-sided enemies

January 31st, 2016 by Maureen

but I say to you, love your enemies, bless those cursing you, do good to those hating you, and pray for those accusing you falsely and persecuting you. Matt 5:44 YLT

We cannot help it when people consider us their enemies but we do have a choice about whether we consider them our enemies. The relationship that others think they are having with us does not have to define the relationship we are having with them. When people show animosity towards us our knee-jerk respond in kind. Love and blessing and goodwill may not seem like our default setting but these are the very responses that lie within the new creation that Christ has made us. What would change about our most stressed relationships if we simply stopped viewing people as enemies?

Lord, thank you that I don’t have to make enemies of those who have made an enemy of me.

Being human in God’s image

December 30th, 2015 by Maureen

God created us in His own likeness and image. Gen. 1:26

I’ve heard the relationship between God and man compared to a human and an ant. None of these descriptions of what it means to be human sounds very ant-like:

He set eternity in our hearts. Ecc. 3:11

He has given us, as His disciples, all authority in heaven and earth. Matt. 28:18

Whoever believes in Jesus will do the works He did and even greater things…Jn. 14:12

His Holy Spirit to teach us all things.  Jn. 14:26  and guide us into all truth. Jn. 16:12

We can have the mind of Christ in us. Phil. 2:5

The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. Rom. 8:11

Jesus has given us the glory the Father gave to Him that we might all be one with the Trinity together. Jn. 17:22

We are partakers in His divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4

The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear but we know this much, when Jesus appears we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. 1 Jn. 3:2

Certainly none of us will ever be God, nor should we aspire to be, but perhaps what He wants us to experience and to become is more profound and transcendent than ants have the capacity to envision but are within the realm of what a child can envision for him- or herself when imagining what it is to be a grown-up. Embrace all it means to be a human child of God.

Lord, I want for myself everything You want for me. I open myself to all the possibilities You offer.

Unwrapping gifts from Jesus

December 25th, 2015 by Maureen

Jesus gives us gifts, some of which we use on a daily basis, some we take out of the box once in awhile, some we look at, say “thanks” but have no idea what to do with them, and some we never even unwrap.

abundant life Jn. 10:10

supernatural love Jn 13:1

complete joy Jn. 15:11

overcoming peace Jn. 16:33

truth and freedom Jn. 8:32, 36

healing for broken hearts Luke 4:18

and bodies Matt. 10:8

significance Luke 12:7

empowerment Acts 1:8

fearless belief Mark 5:36

every possibility Mark 9:23

His own glory Jn. 17:22

Thank you, Lord, for giving me these gifts.  Show me how to fully realize them in my life.

 

 

Stars and other directional phenomena

December 14th, 2015 by Maureen

starAnd the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. Matt. 2:9

By the time the Magi got there, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had moved out of the stable. Jesus might have been over a year old. God wanted the Magi to find Jesus. The star was a classier version of a giant flashing neon arrow leading straight to the house where Jesus was. Sort of like the Holy Spirit, the church, and individual followers of Christ are lights in the world guiding, illuminating, and pointing the way to relationship with Jesus.

Lord, thank you for sending all sorts of stars and directional phenomena to point me ever closer to You.