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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     How comfortable are you in asking God for help in all circumstances?

2.     How willing are you to accept a ‘no’ as easily as a ‘yes’? Do both replies get equal gratitude?

3.     How can knowing our transience enrich each day or burden us? How does our attitude influence that perception?


Share: What new opportunity has the Lord given you today?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


2 Kings 20:5, “Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David. I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed I will heal you, …. I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”


First Hezekiah brought his weakness as a king to the Lord and out of God’s strength Assyria was routed. Then the king brought his personal physical weakness before the Lord in prayer and received fifteen more years. He had the courage to ask, the faith to believe in the possibility if God so chose to say yes.

Yet, in his extended days, he put Judah and the city of Jerusalem into jeopardy by showing emissaries from Babylon all the treasures, including the house of the Lord. Was his intent to boast in the Lord? Or to intimidate Babylon? Or had he become complacent under the Lord’s favor? When faced with the consequences of his actions Hezekiah was merely grateful he could live out his reign in peace.

How do we react once a crisis has past? How quickly do we fall back into old habits, old patterns of self-centeredness? Or perhaps worse—not even seek God’s will at all, in case His answer is no.

Hezekiah first had the courage to ask. Then somewhere he lost the ability to fully live the gift of years God gave him.

Lord, help us to abide in You every moment of every day and not wait for emergencies and catastrophes to seek Your face, but instead walk with You in the fellowship You have offered us as gift every day. Then, Lord, we can remain in Your counsel, regardless of what the day might bring.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 39:4-5

“Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the extent of my days,
Let me know how transient I am.
Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight,
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.”



Friday, October 25, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Weakness


The record stood

Asssyria wins

all other nations lose;

laid waste

lands decimated

beliefs shattered alongside

their pottery idols.


Messengers boasted

resistance futile

so Hezekiah

laid Assyria’s contempt

before God alone

not against the odds.


Asked instead that

all nations might witness

God’s sovereign power.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


            1. What is your immediate reaction to a serious threat? Resistance? Flight? Or hope in the Lord?

            2. How do you prepare time to listen for God’s answer in a time of crisis?

            3. At what point in a crisis do you seek the Lord’s help—before you try to solve it, or after you have failed?

            4. Do you consider that an impending threat might be an opportunity for God’s witness?


Share: How has the Lord given you His strength at a time of personal weakness?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


2 Kings 19, Hezekiah’s prayer for Israel. “Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands,…… So now, O Lord our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

This king did not even try to pretend Israel had any hope of success apart from the Lord. He recognized their weakness and depended on God’s strength. So he took the letter given him and laid it before God seeking guidance.

Detail by detail, step by step. Seeking wisdom—seeking clear directions.

How often do we take special time apart to truly listen down to the minute details of circumstances facing us? How often do we recognize our inadequacy from the very beginning, no matter how much experience and talent we have?

Hurrying to meet the crisis. Tossing out prayers on the run.

Restore in us, O Lord, hearts to pray deeply, to listen carefully for Your will. To come to a place of peace in You, that Your name be honored, that the world around us may know who You are.

In our weakness, in our chaos, please bring us Your peace.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 31:3-4

“For Thou art my rock and my fortress;
For Thy name’s sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me.
Thou wilt pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me;
For Thou art my strength.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Warfare


Elisha’s prayer

opened blind eyes.


Now aware heaven’s

fire burned protection

servant’s view to

spiritual realm.


Then closed soldier’s sight.

Drew into physical

danger, treated with hospitality,

turned anger aside.


Both victories by words, not swords.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     What army with swords drawn is surrounding you this week? Write down their threats against you.

2.     Next to their threats, write down God’s words of promise and protection.

3.     As each threat draws nearer claim your word of promise and see the Lord standing with you.



Share: What word has the Lord given you this week to escape the edge of the sword?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


2 Kings 6: 16-17, “He replied, ‘Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them…So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As Elisha’s servant woke to find an army circling the city, swords at hand, he naturally became concerned. All he could consider was the situation immediately before him and could not see any solution.

How often do we also face the day only considering the swords drawn against us: at work, at home, with extended family. Medical, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual battles can wear us down with such fatigue that we too are blind to any alternatives other than attack or defend.

But Elisha stood within another reality and shared it with his servant.

How would we react to ongoing threats, daily burdens, and sudden danger if we also saw God’s fire surrounding us? In Ephesians six we are given the details of the armor He provides: truth, righteousness, preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

As the world’s demands circle us with enticement and pressure and false choices we are not left defenseless. Yet not to fight back with similar weapons. Instead we ask the Lord to open our eyes to see His solution.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 68:19-20

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.
God is to us a God of deliverances;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego


Three men whose

names are often set to song.

Their stories told from

early years.

Wide-eyed listeners breathless

with anticipation.

Feel the flames’

heat in rising cliffhanger.

They started with courage,

conviction to stand true

no matter the consequences.

Their beginning often blurred

behind victory.





Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Is faith your first response to critical decisions or the last?

2.     Is faith your first response to everyday choices or do you consider it automatic?

3.     How do you reply when someone challenges your trust in God?

4.     Are you willing to accept a yes or no answer to prayer with equal commitment, especially when that answer might affect your loved ones?


Share: What fiery furnace has the Lord rescued you from?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:34, “quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign enemies to flight.”

Sometimes it seems that we see our faith as our last hope. Something we cling to when all else appears helpless.  How passive and anemic.

Instead the Bible links faith to heroic feats of common ordinary men and women. The difference? They started from a faith stand—regardless of the consequences.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego held high official positions under Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Yet their whole heart belonged to God. When the king’s edict demanded worship of a false idol, they never even hesitated in their reply.

“If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” Daniel 3: 17-18

Their courage and commitment to the Lord grounded them before they ever had to make life and death decisions. Their faith and relationship were the foundations of all their choices—large or small—life or death. They accepted both yes and no answers to their prayers with gratitude and obedience.

Lord, please help us to step into the world each day with the same armor, knowing that You will be our strength when we are weak. Keep our hearts in Your care.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:2

“When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.”

Friday, October 4, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Lions


Did the lions wonder

at the unexpected

meal: a man size

serving.


What desires burned

before the light

flooded through their

den blinding

searing, closing

their mouths.


Messenger changed intent.


Instead now stood

with Daniel as

witness.


God only sovereign worship.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


            Jesus’ promise to us is found in Matthew 11: 25-30

1.     Which fact that Jesus states gives you confidence right now to face your lions?

2.     Name your lions? How can you pray Jesus’ words in this passage towards them?

3.     Have they been blurring your sight from seeing the Lord clearly? How?

4.     Are you honest with others re the weariness of your soul and willing to ask for prayer?


Share: How has the Lord taken a heavy yoke for you and turned it to light?



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Daniel 6:22, “My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.”

What lion mouths are you facing right now? Bills? Medical results? Broken relationships? Fatigue? Confusion? Priorities?

Faith for Daniel meant an angel shutting the mouths of lions.

However he did not know that outcome beforehand. His situation came about due to envy and a desire for power by his opponents. When the decree was signed Daniel then went into his room to continue to pray giving thanks to God, “as he had been doing previously”, and that is where they arrested him.

He didn’t allow his outer circumstances to change his heart or his actions towards the Lord. He didn’t’ wait to know what the outcome would be before trusting. He didn’t go through numbing fear before turning back to God. He stayed the course
he already knew through his relationship.

We often wish we could say the same for ourselves, but even when we don’t deny our trust in God, often we see the lions before us and let them wear us to the bone before we call for God’s strength to sustain us.

We too can claim to be blameless before our accusers—not on our merit like Daniel—but on Jesus’ grace He has claimed for us. His word, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest….and you shall find rest for your souls.”

Lord, please strengthen our souls to be in communion with You so that we will not be tossed and turned by our own false desires, or the desires of others, but grounded in a heart of integrity with You.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 7: 1-2

“O Lord my God, in Thee I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,
Lest he tear my soul like a lion,
Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.”




 
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