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Monday, July 30, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Hebrew 11: 2, “Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval.”


Looking beyond the impossible struggle our geographic ancestors built countries. Planning for future generations they acted upon hope, upon faith, upon promises. They placed their trust on knowledge of land and crops and water to carve out valleys, lattice mountains, plant farms and build cities.

Leaning on God’s promises our spiritual ancestors built a heritage of faith. Day by day sharing moral concepts. Week-by-week worshipping God. Month-by-month proclaiming scriptures. Year-by-year kneeling in atonement for their sin. Accepting God’s forgiveness.

Looking forward to a time beyond span when prophecy would reach completion. Not dependent on rulers, wealth, or power, but on God Himself: Creator, Lord. Relying on His resurrection words.

Leaning on You alone, Lord, is the only way to find Your path through this maze of life. Build in us, in me, I pray Your foundations to withstand the storms and droughts and earthquakes.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 125

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.”



Friday, July 27, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Value


First flush of accomplishment
tinged with shy pride
slight disbelief that
success came from own passion
until now a private hope.

Hold that beginning
deep within before
pride declares territory
demands repeat performances
imitations without heart.

Allow seeds to grow
in furrowed ground
rich soil accepting seasons
of fallow and fruit
serving unseen hope.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     In what ways do we tend to measure success or failure apart from heart and character?

2.     How much emphasis do we place on care and compassion in our judgments?

3.     What values will last regardless of circumstances?


Share: How has a ‘temporary’ failure resulted in an eternal gift of grace for you?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



2 Corinthians 4:18, “because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary but what cannot be seen is eternal.”


For over twenty-five years I woke daily to a lone almond tree outside my window. One by one the other trees from a remnant grove had ceased to grow. Each spring I anxiously watched for tiny nodules to see if its life continued through the winter—to see if once again blossoms would rain a pink and white carpet on my lawn.

 By summer’s end a wild breeze would blow through the almond tree and every so often dislodge a leaf.  Gradually a skeleton of branches became clearer as the outer green coat dropped off slowly. Soon it became bare, ready to face winter. Twisted brown limbs stark against the sky.

One day it will cease. One day our physical bodies will stop too. But in Christ we will awaken to eternity. His words encourage us not to lose heart, “though our outer man is decaying…light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

What is the weight of glory? We can’t see it, hold it or identify it. But it grows everyday—through summer, fall, winter and spring shaping us into His unique image. If we are willing to accept all the seasons. To let sin and selfishness drop away leaving us visible—vulnerable.  Willing to let our outer layers be pealed off one by one. Willing to be rooted in faith that grows repeatedly.

Lord, during seasons when everything seems so perfect it’s easy for my faith to remain constant.  Please keep me close, Lord, during the winter season as well, when I recognize there is nothing left except You, and You alone remain.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 40: 2

“He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay;
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.”





Friday, July 20, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Crumbs


A smooth uncluttered day
shaped by traffic free
roads, easy solutions
visible respect.

A carefree meal with
co-operative coworkers
a welcome home at shift’s end.

Only reached occasionally
yet crumbs enough
to continue to desire
a consistent demand .

All seen as experienced by
others; shaping envy,
crave my piece of the pie.

A just meal said deserved.
Heart fills with famine
clogged arteries.

Open handed you stretch
real life line, hope in presence
offered daily, unlimited
heart peace. Fullness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


   How does our culture encourage us to measure a good day, or a good life, by health and wealth and self-achievement?

   How much of God’s given gifts are included in a measured sense of peace or hope?

  What words do you use to describe “a good day” or “a bad day” to a friend?


Share: What helps you recognize and receive God’s peaceful hope regardless of circumstances?


Monday, July 16, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Romans 8:24, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen.”


Hope is anticipation of what is yet to come. What is seen here and now is often temporary. Why do we tend to settle for partial crumbs instead of waiting for the whole meal?

We spend so much of our time hoping for things of fleeting consequence: a sunny day, no traffic, a parking place, no arguments, a promotion, all pleasurable and all pale imitations of real hope.


Hope reaches out for the riches of our spiritual inheritance. We look to the promises already given. Seen hope—Emmanuel. Prophecy claims fulfilled. We can look back in fact. We can live today in presence, in daily manna. We can look ahead to more promises.

What is seen are gifts given.  Good news, release from captivity, balm for our souls, fellowship, words and prayer.

Hope gives courage, anticipation and strength in all situations when we take hold of it. Without hope—we die. Perhaps not physically, not life’s breath, instead soul’s breath drifts away. We miss living in forgiveness now.

Your hope Lord, of eternal life, forgiveness, mercy, grace, all beckon with a new reality. Yet it requires that I step forward in trust. Resist the fear that says this is all there is. You have intervened with Your love and mercy. Help me to step into your hope, which reaches so far beyond my limited seen boundaries.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 4: 8

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone,
O Lord, make me lie down in safety.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Unseen


Behind the oxygen: air

Below the tree: seed

Beneath the earth: nutrients

Life given each new day
sustained by invisible
love

every moment replenished
with forward motion
living

tied together past,
present, future—eternity.

Behind the visible: light

Below the task: energy

Beneath the sorrow: dawn

Breath sustained hope.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     What is the difference between a man-made conviction of assurance and a God-centered one?

2.     How can circumstances make us the most vulnerable to doubts?

3.     When should we hesitate if we’re not sure we hear God’s voice?



Share: What word from the Lord has made it possible for you to take a greater step of faith without sight?





Monday, July 9, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


Sometimes we tend to look for assurance in the wrong places. Or, maybe for the wrong reasons.  Assurance that we will be rewarded, loved, valued, because of things we do. And when the people we most care about disappoint us by not responding our attitude and hope decrease.

Except no one but You, Lord, can fill up the void within us. You alone are our assurance.

However when we do not see You, or hear You, we tend to misunderstand and let doubt creep in.

Yet we are convinced of so many things we cannot see: oxygen and air, light behind dark clouds and invisible nutrients in our food. Nature explodes with things not seen: microbes, neutrons, quarks and currents. Even when we can’t describe them, or understand them, or even pronounce them sometimes, we have no doubts or questions re their existence—their ongoing presence.

Your invisible realm. Invisible to the human eye geographically, yet wider and deeper and more potent than any earthly rule.

So why do I doubt the paths You set before me, or the value of the journey for its own sake? Or the voice of Your Holy Spirit in soft whispers?

Open my eyes, I pray Lord, to live in Your unseen reality and to fully become a kingdom citizen. Help me to walk in Your light in this shadow world.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 124: 7-8

“…The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry Introduction


As we continue this journey to grasp what it means, “to lay aside the old self…and put on the new self,” we come to the often-invisible realm of faith. What does a life of faith look like? How do we live in its hope? What is God’s definition of hope and faith?

We often look for assurance every day of our lives, assurance that we are wanted, loved, appreciated. We desire a confirmation of our value, our work, and ourselves. Yet we are looking for assurance that can be seen. We hope—yes—but for a concrete response.

Faith calls us deeper. To conviction. To trust. To care with or without a smile in return. To labor without encouragement. To act in conviction of our beliefs and our hearts. To act the same whether in solitude or company, in joy or despair. To act with expectation that the Holy Spirit will interact within and through us.

Sometimes it seems our faith is strong. Sometimes we only have faint glimpses of light. It takes time to take a firm root in us and we usually want to see results quicker, when we really need to go slower. So this study unfolds as seeds. Mondays we will reflect on a scripture passage. Wednesdays consider meditative questions. Fridays respond with poetry.

Thank you for continuing to explore. As you discover your own questions and insights, prose and prayers, please share.

Lord, we long for a faith based on Your unseen realities.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Refining Words



FRUIT


Work offered, chosen
by you for service
in vineyard, to bear
kingdom fruit.

An honor, privilege, joy.

And yet too often
wander into wrong field,
misuse given tools, think
only self capable.

Breed confusion, sorrow, blame.

Surround us by boundaries
within abiding that despite
tangled attempts
your truth grows.


John 21
 
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