Archive for the ‘Philippians’ Category

It’s Thanks-giving season

November 18th, 2017 by Maureen

Don’t just look out for your own interests, but the interests of others. Phil 2:4

Gratitude causes us to pause and to appreciate having people who care about us, a roof over our heads, food to eat, means of communication and transportation, jobs, relatively good health, personal freedoms, and other blessings. As we consider what it means to have those blessings we may also be inspired to want everyone else to be able to have and enjoy those blessings too. This season affords so many opportunities to care of the interests of others. These opportunities for Thanks-giving are also blessings.

Father thank you for inspiring generosity, compassion and empathy through Thanksgiving.

Relationship is the main course at the holiday meal

November 17th, 2017 by Maureen

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers. Phil. 1:4

It’s the people in our lives that matter, not the stuff or the circumstances. Each relationship is a connection of God-inspired serendipity through birth, marriage, work, school, neighborhood, common friends or interests, and random encounters. We tell stories about our shared experiences, some sweet, some funny, and some even disastrous. The history of our relationships with these people affirms that God is indeed love. The people God has put into our lives are blessings and treasures. Relationship is the main course at our Father’s table.

Father, I thank you for Your table of grace. I pray joy and abundance on those who grace my life every day, on those who will sit at the tables in my house on this particular Thanksgiving, and on the larger gathering who sit at the ever-expanding table in my heart.

Contentment and gratitude feed off one another

November 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Phil. 4:11-12

Sometimes it’s not our perceived needs that create discontent, but the tendency to focus on those things we think are missing from our lives rather than on the blessings we have. Sometimes, rather than appreciating and acknowledging the positive traits and contributions of the people in our lives we focus more on the ways we think they need to improve. The desire for excellence or perfection can cause us to feel the need to wait for things (or worse, people) to improve before we can enjoy them. Gratitude helps us to actively appreciate and enjoy our lives and the people in our lives, just as they are right now.

Lord, thank you for all I have right now. Period.

Crazy peace

October 25th, 2017 by Maureen

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. 2 Thess. 3:16
The peace that passes understanding guards your hearts and thoughts through Christ. Phil. 4:7

When our lives and our hearts seem to be falling apart, God offers us peace and comfort that just might make even less sense than pain and suffering. When the pressure feels overwhelming, the pain just seems senseless, or we feel helpless to control the situation or the outcome, God offers us peace and rest. Instead of spiraling out into the cold darkness of despair, God’s peace acts like spiritual gravity tethering us to His love and grace, making it possible to live and even enjoy our lives in the middle of hard and confusing situations.

Lord, thank you for peace when peace seems like the craziest reaction ever.

Always Check “Yes”

October 19th, 2017 by Maureen

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
Any comfort from His love?
Any fellowship together in the Spirit?
Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Phil. 2:1

(Hint: The answer is always “yes.”) Sometimes the Father shouts “Yes” with a divine, spine-tingling, nearly tangible loving Presence. Sometimes Jesus manifests His “Yes” through the encouragement, comfort, and sense of belonging we give to and receive from each other. Sometimes Holy Spirit whispers “Yes” in the settled peace that we feel when we just know that God is always in us, with us, and for us. Answering “no” might be a temporary perception we entertain because we feel discouraged or isolated, but “yes” is the reality God restored us to live in. “Yes” is the environment in which we thrive.

Lord, let the “yes” ring in my ears and spring from my lips all the time.

On finals and other measurement

May 19th, 2017 by Maureen

It is my earnest expectation and hope that I will in no way be put to shame but with complete boldness Christ will be exalted in me whether in life or death. Phil. 1:10

Engineer and businessman W. Edwards Deming coined the phrase, “you can expect what you inspect.” This is the reason teachers evaluate student learning and businesses have employee reviews. Following all the rules and not messing up does not demonstrate Christ revealed and exalted in us any more than regurgitation of information or perfect executing of basic skills demonstrates higher level thinking or creativity. If we focus on simply avoiding shame and embarrassment then we probably will manage to do that, perhaps only that. If we inspect the exalted Christ then we can expect to reflect His image. Here, the analogy breaks down. We don’t have to worry about measuring up because Christ is still the full measure. Loving and seeing Christ and noticing Christ revealed in others is not something that is truly measurable.

Lord, help me to look at You and long for You.

Conversation time

April 4th, 2017 by Maureen

Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. Phil. 3:15

A mature discussion establishes tone and relationship before getting into content.  Our motives for  easily shift from standing in our truth and learning about where they stand to winning an argument or showing off our smarts. A grace-based, loving discussion is one that is patient, kind, and enduring rather than arrogant, rude, or intent on getting our own way. God is not threatened by questions or alternative viewpoints and neither should we be. The Holy Spirit is more effective than any of us at reconciling perceptions and misconceptions to reveal Who Christ really Is. The time and energy spent arguing is time that could be spent in gracious, loving conversation with people.

Lord, let love and grace be starting points for every discussion.

You can’t out-care God

March 26th, 2017 by Maureen

I continue to be confident of this very thing, He who did begin a good work in you, will perform [it] until a day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this about you all, since I have you in the heart. Phil. 1:6-7

Unfortunately sometimes we mistake worry for caring. When we love someone we wish them well and respond to them with good. We can trust that God’s goodwill is even greater than our own. We can trust the place each of us has in the heart of God. We can trust the adequacy of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ in our own lives and in the lives of those we live. God is always performing good, even when we don’t see it. The realization of Christ’s redemptive work in our lives and in the lives of those we love can give us confidence instead of worry.

Lord, deepen my realization of Your transforming love for me and for those I have in my heart.

Optimistic realism

January 22nd, 2017 by Maureen

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Phil 4:8

Negativity robs us of peace, joy, and power. We make ourselves pessimists when we dwell on our doubts. We set ourselves up for failure when we focus on the worst possible outcomes. We make ourselves victims when fear rules our decision-making. We trap ourselves in the past when we dwell on disappointment. Realistically there is a lot in this world to cause grief and concern, but there is also so much beauty, joy, kindnesses, and love. It just depends on what we choose to notice and how we choose to process it.

Lord, give me the hopeful mind of Christ so that my gut reaction is to see beauty and notice good and respond in kind.

A personal history of Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2016 by Maureen

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers. Phil. 1:4

When it comes right down to it it’s the people in our lives, not the stuff or the circumstances, that matter. We remember how we met. We connected by God-inspired serendipity through birth, marriage, work, school, neighborhood, common interests, and random encounters.  We tell stories about our shared experiences, some sweet, some funny and some even disastrous.  The history of my relationships with these people has, at one time or another, served as personal affirmation that God is indeed love. These people are the blessings and treasures God has given to me, and I thank Him for them.

Lord, I thank you and pray joy and abundance on these dear friends who sit at the tables in my house on this particular Thanksgiving, and also on the larger gathering who sit at the ever-expanding table in my heart.

Ordinarily extraordinary people

October 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

I thank God every time I remember you. Phil 1:3

It’s amazing to think about how many lives touch our own lives in the course of an ordinary day. Family members, friends, members of our church families, neighbors, co-workers, those we mentor, those who mentor us, business and social connections, etc. may influence us in small but significant ways that positively impact our lives. It is likely that many are unaware of how we are changed by knowing them. None of us become who we are or get where we are by ourselves. It’s amazing to think of the potential connections we might enjoy with others when we choose to be truly present and aware in the course of each ordinary day.

Lord, each one is so dear and I thank You for putting them in my life.

Make me a channel of Your peace

August 31st, 2016 by Maureen

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Phil. 2:1

Sometimes God answers these questions with a divine, spine-tingling sense of His presence but often, probably most of the time, He gives us each other to provide encouragement, comfort, and a sense of belonging. He pours His own tenderness and compassion into us and inspires us to respond to others who need that same tenderness and compassion. After hanging out with me I want people to be able to check “yes.”

Lord, help me to be sensitive to others and to Your Spirit’s response to them.

The shame factor

August 25th, 2016 by Maureen

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Phil. 1:20

If we feel shame, rejection or retribution from God every time we fail, if we may interpret the negative events  surrounding our lives as God’s punishment for our failures, we expect too much from ourselves and too little from Christ. Christ came because we can’t execute perfection on our own. If we expect Christ to cover us, if we expect the Holy Spirit to guide us, and if we expect the Father to treat us like beloved children, love and trust towards God replaces shame and fear as motivation for our life choices. We live bolder, more honorable lives when He is living in and through us, without the shame factor, than we possible can live through our own efforts.

Lord help me let go a shame and honor You with my trust.

Past Forgetting

August 1st, 2016 by Maureen

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on for the prize which God is calling me to: life in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13

We should learn from past mistakes then let them go. We need to recognize that our past experiences and perceptions color our perspectives, interpretations, and expectations about the present and the future. We have to shed baggage to keep running with minds and hearts open to God’s perceptions and intentions for us in each new experience. We miss abundance, discovery and growth when we assign value and meaning based solely on past experience.

Lord, help me to let go of every thing I don’t need to run this day’s race.

Past forgetting

August 1st, 2016 by Maureen

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on for the prize which God is calling me to: life in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13

We should learn from past mistakes then let them go. We need to recognize that our past experiences and perceptions color our perspectives, interpretations, and expectations about the present and the future. We have to shed baggage to keep running with minds and hearts open to God’s perceptions and intentions for us in each new experience. We miss abundance, discovery and growth when we assign value and meaning based solely on past experience.

Lord, help me to let go of every thing I don’t need to run this day’s race.

Sharing Grace

April 30th, 2016 by Maureen

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Phil. 4:4-5 (Msg.)

Jesus’ teachings was only one aspect of what drew people to Him and caused His followers to invite others to come and meet Him. He also had a personality that made all sorts of people feel safe, loved, and included. People enjoyed His company. We don’t tend to want to introduce friends we don’t think are going to like each other, even if we love both of them.Why would we tell other people God doesn’t like them and then try to introduce them to Him? No wonder “evangelism” makes people on both sides of the conversation nervous. Grace simply includes the people we love in an ongoing loving conversation.

Lord, I trust Your Spirit to have loving, encouraging conversations with the people we both love and like very much. And I ask that You show me when its helpful and appropriate for me to join the conversations You are already having with the people we both love and like very much.

Just perfection. Lose the “ism”

January 28th, 2016 by Maureen

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. Phil. 3:12

This verse comes after Paul talks about shedding baggage and insignificant distractions in order to live out a life of discovering Christ. A call to perfection does not involve walking through a minefield of “thou shalt nots” trying to avoid stepping on one, but rather invites us to partake in His divine nature and experience the identity He gives us through redemption. We can’t make ourselves perfect. We can only partake in the perfection of Christ who has done everything necessary to redeem us. As we follow Christ we are catching up to the life that He intended for us and to the person who He has already made us.

Lord, free me from unrealistic perfectionism and general uptightness and help me be more aware of who I am in You and because of You.

Rejoicing doesn’t always mean plastic smiles and platitudes

January 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

Rejoice in the Lord always! And again, I say rejoice. Phil. 4:4

Rejoicing is sort of like joining a current that is always already flowing. Remember that scene in Finding Nemo when the characters join the East Australian current and are swept along in it?* Rejoicing isn’t about denying reality or finding silver linings but about experiencing God in the present moment. Stop wishing, expecting, and planning. Stop noticing what’s imperfect and incomplete. Stop feeling the compulsion to resolve everything first. Let that stuff go. Notice beauty. Listen for music or find it in surrounding sounds. Love the ones you’re with. Respond authentically to this moment from a place of awareness, acceptance, rest, trust, and love because God is with us, for us and in us. Always.

Lord, I want to experience Your joy in this moment.

*If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth 100 minutes of your life.

 

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.

Thankful for friendships

November 28th, 2015 by Maureen

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Phil 1:3

Friendship is more than a greeting card sentiment. We humans are social beings and we really do need one another. Friends are often God’s tangible expression of help, comfort, love, and wisdom. When a name is referenced in conversation or a face pops up in the friends field on Facebook offer a prayer of thanksgiving to go with the affection that rises up at the very thought of that friend.

Lord, thank you for friends near and far. Thank you for past, present, and future friends.