Archive for the ‘Romans’ Category

Choosing peace

August 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Rom. 8:31b

We can’t control what happens to us but we do get to choose how to interpret and respond. Never underestimate the love of God nor the power of the company and equipment He uses to help. If we interpret bad stuff as aimed at us by God or a sign that He has abandoned us, we are going to assume certain attitudes and attributes apply to God that may make receiving His love, peace, and help more difficult for us. If we respond to bad stuff as victims or even combatants, we may actually diminish our ability to effectively process and manage what is happening to us. If we choose to start from a premise that God loves us and desires good for us, that His power includes whatever is happening to us now, and that He equips us and those around us with the insights, gifts, and talents to solve or manage our situation, we can experience our circumstances from a mental and spiritual environment where peace and perspective prevail.

Father, just like everything else, You’ve got this.

Eternity in a chaise lounge

April 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

Today is a day in ATX when His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, can be  clearly perceived  in the things that have been made. (Rom. 1:20)

There is ample opportunity to experience divine peace, serenity, and restoration by just stretching out on the grass or chaise lounge, closing your eyes, soaking up the sunshine and cool breeze and listening to the invisible choir of wind rustling leaves, birds and crickets chirping, and humans going about their day. Sometimes it is in the rhythms of the temporal that the patterns of eternity emerge. Sometimes we apprehend eternity in fully experiencing the joy and simplicity of resting in the momentary now.

Lord, may all my friends enjoy an eternal moment in this beautiful day you’ve made.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour. – William Blake

When God’s answers are seriously ironic

February 26th, 2017 by Maureen

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. Rom:1:10

In 56 AD Paul wrote to his Roman friends that they were always on his mind and he couldn’t wait to see them in person. After three years Paul finally reached Rome. As a prisoner. In jail. Yet it worked out that Paul’s purpose and intentions did not change because of this and Paul’s message and influence continued – and perhaps even escalated – sometimes in spite of and sometimes because of his uncomfortable situation.

Lord, You have the big picture. I trust you farther than I can see.

Righteous. In a good way.

December 29th, 2016 by Maureen

Through the good news the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Rom. 1:17

“Righteousness” is one of those words that has been tainted in the Christian world. Righteousness is not about reinventing ourselves according to some abstract, external moral code because the righteous God gets really angry if we don’t. The broadest definition of “dikaiosynē,” the Greek word translated as “righteousness,” means “the state of him who is as he ought to be.” N.T. Wright says that it “denotes not so much the abstract idea of justice or virtue, as right standing and consequent right behavior, within a community.” In that sense one could look at it like this: each person becomes who God created them to be, the community exists in mutual love, respect, and recognition of each one as genuine creations of God, and, consequently, people treat one another with His intentions. One could also look at it as how we view the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and how we experience His loving restoration of us to our righteous selves. This transformation results in a seeing as we ought to see, being as we ought to be, not out of fear but out of our genuine selves.

Lord, help me to be as You you made me to be and to treat people as you intend me to treat them.

God with us, in us, and for us

August 9th, 2016 by Maureen

I am always with  you. Matt. 8:20;  I am in my Father and you are in Me and I am in you. Jn 14:8; If God is for us who can be against us. Rom. 8:31

God is always with us. When we experience the moments of our day in the companionship of God every sense is heightened and our enjoyment, meaning and understanding increase. He is also in us, inspiring us  and empowering us to comprehend, to respond, and to create, as members of something larger than ourselves. Even when we meet with adversity or challenges the God who is still with us and in us is also for us. His intentions for us are always for lives filled with His love, grace, and abundance.

Lord, help me to sense You with me, in me, and for me no matter what is happening around me.

 

This is going to end well

August 5th, 2016 by Maureen

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Rom. 15:13

Trust allows us to live joyfully and peacefully. That doesn’t mean we put on the happy face mask and pretend it doesn’t hurt when it really does. It means that even when its apparent that the immediate circumstances aren’t going to end well, we can have our cry and keep turning the pages with hope, joy, and peace. The Author and Finisher of our faith has finished the story…and it ends well.

Lord, I trust you with my story, beginning to end.

Life really is good

July 27th, 2016 by Maureen

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. Rom. 8:18

We don’t get to decide what happens to us but we get to determine its power over us. Sometimes what we label “suffering” boils down to inconvenience. Sometimes what we label “persecution” is simply disagreement. Our perspective and response to unpleasant experiences determines the mark they make on us. Not to say the pain we feel is not real and legitimate and worthy of attention and comfort. It’s often helpful in getting past hurt to acknowledge it and talk it through. We gain realistic perspective by remembering His loving presence is always with us and in us, His victory over evil and death applies to whatever we are experiencing, His victory is reconciling all things to Himself even things that presently oppose Him. Add to that all the people who love us, the opportunities we  have, and the moments of true beauty, joy, and peace that He gives us in this world, comparatively speaking, no matter what happens, life is good.

Lord, you are good all the time and I praise you.

Not independent, interdependent

July 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

It is not good for he man to be alone. Gen. 2:18  So we, the many, are one body in Christ, and members, each one, of one another, having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Rom. 12:5-6 Father, make them one as We are One. John 17:22

Life in Christ involves belonging. Early in Genesis the idea is introduced that even though Adam has relationship with God he also needs another human being in order not to be “alone.” God exists in Trinity with three members who are members of one another. This was the image he stamped on the first human relationship He created. This is the image He stamped on the body of Christ we call the universal church and on the individual communities we call the local congregation. We belong to each other and with each other. We need to regularly experience and contribute love, grace, wisdom, energy, and goodwill in the context of membership in a tangible group of people, our body, our church. We are not independent we are interdependent. We need each other and we need to belong.

Lord, help us to discover what means to belong as members of one body just as You, Father, Son, and Spirit, are members of One.

God calls shenanigans on identity theft

June 9th, 2016 by Maureen

You have not received a spirit of bondage to fear but of adoption as children so you can call out to Him, “Daddy!” Rom. 8:15

Every single one of us is beloved and valuable and adopted. We are God’s wanted children. We sometimes identify ourselves by our fears and guilt, by our past wounds and scarred psyches, by our flawed desires and addictions, by our imperfections and inadequacies. These things define us in our own eyes and are reinforced by the Accuser, who comes to lie, steal, and destroy, who wants us to see ourselves as damaged goods and outsiders, and who offers us unhealthy, destructive response patterns that entrench us in these false identities. God calls shenanigans on all this, saying to the identity Thief  “not who they are, not who I made them.” Our loving Father already identifies us with Christ. As His children. He offers us the authenticity, freedom, and abundance that comes with discovering who we already are.

Daddy, when I forget who I am, help me remember.

 

We can’t help ourselves

June 5th, 2016 by Maureen

Christ didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. (Message) God demonstrates His love for us in that… while we were still helpless….while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Mounce) Rom. 5:6-8

Christ causes us to belong in His Kingdom and in His own family. There was nothing we can accomplish or deny ourselves that makes us more ready or fit to be there. We can’t help ourselves. Fortunately Christ did help us. Before we knew to ask, before we realized we needed His help, Christ transformed us as we could not transform for ourselves. Should we, then, withhold our love or acceptance from those who fail to meet our conditions? Should we, then, beat ourselves up when our own efforts fall short? His Kingdom is where we live now. His children are who we are now.

Lord, show me how to live out redemptive grace in a judgmental world.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

What can you do against such reckless hate?

April 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

Bless those who persecute you…weep with those who weep…Repay no one evil for evil; give careful thought to what is good in the sight of all people. Rom. 12:14, 15, 17

Lately I’ve felt so sad about tragedies, injustices, and acts of unspeakable violence in the news, on my Facebook page, and from personal friends and acquaintances. I think of the words of Theoden in Lord of the Rings, “What can you do against such reckless hate?” How can we respond in a way that is “good in the sight of all people?” when conflict and selfishness is at the root of so much evil? It has to take careful thought, and prayer, and seeking God’s Holy Spirit to find a response that is restorative for everyone involved, victims, perpetrators, and onlookers. I suspect that weeping is a cleansing agent to clear thought. But our culture seems to jump straight to anger, vengeance, and evil-for-evil responses that perpetrate more tragedies, injustices, and violence.

Dear Lord, make prayers for restoration out of the tears that fall down my cheeks. I don’t know what to pray for beaten babies, lost fathers, imprisoned children, violent mothers, Chicago, sex slaves, ISIS, angry politicians and their angry followers, poverty, disease, addiction, and everything else that needs restoring.

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.

Shooting stars and firing neurons

March 5th, 2016 by Maureen

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. Rom 1:20

In Voyage of the Dawn Treader C. S. Lewis wrote a dialogue between Eustace, a scientific materialist, and Ramandu, a fallen star:

…’In our world,’ said Eustace, ‘a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.’

‘Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of .” [Ramandu answers]

We can analyze the contents of our world and try to explain the mechanics of it’s origins and it’s forces, but mysteries remain. We know so much more about the human brain now than we did in the last century, but understanding how brain neurons fire doesn’t explain all that it means to be human. God always reveals more of Himself in our wonder and awe.

Lord, help me to experience what You’ve made with You and through You.

Praying to escape disaster isn’t the same as expecting something amazing

February 7th, 2016 by Maureen

Rejoice in hope, be patient in trouble, be constant in prayer. Rom 12:12

We sometimes relegate hope for a joyful outcome to the next life. Our prayers are often desperate pleas for God to head off our current version of the worst-case scenario and substitute it with some version of “acceptable loss.” Perhaps expressing our most joyful wishes, the best-case scenarios that we truly desire is a more spiritually and emotionally constructive way to pray. Such prayer recognizes this Christ renders redemptive, restorative, joyful impact of situations in this present life as well as in the life to come. Such prayers can cause the same sort of excited mouth-watering expectation we feel when we smell something new and we know it’s going to be delicious but haven’t actually tasted it. God gives good.

Lord, I want to see beyond my best-case scenario and participate in Yours.

 

Uncircle the wagons

January 27th, 2016 by Maureen

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Rom. 14:19

We form groups based on what makes us different from most but like others in the group. We market our organizations by highlighting our distinctions and perceived superiority. Sometimes we even circle the wagons to protect and isolate ourselves. Yet, we are part of something larger made up of others who are beloved by God, others who belong to their own groups because they are just as convinced as we are that we are “doing it right.” The love of Christ calls us to give and welcome love, to share in His grace and truth, to encourage and affirm beyond our own circles.

Lord, thank you for all those who love and seek You!

“All” is a big audacious word

January 9th, 2016 by Maureen

What shall we say in response to these things? He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all. how will He not also graciously give us all things? Rom. 8:31-33

We have only experienced a few things out of the “all things” God means to give us. Sometimes we focus on what seems to be missing or lost from out lives when it is likely there are unappreciated aspects and unexplored layers and layers of bounty within the things we already have. Whatever seems missing or lost might be in there somewhere too. From out limited perspectives we have only scratched the surface of what God’s love, forgiveness, bounty, and restoration means.

Lord, increase my awareness and experiences with the all in “all things.”

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.