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Friday, November 29, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Eleazar


It was not an old man

recognizing death’s call nearing

and choosing a hero’s end,

but a repulsion against

any time marred by

separation from Your word.

Repudiated pollution

chose truth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Have you ever been tempted or enticed to compromise truth for self-interest? How and why?

2.     What were the results? Did your response strengthen or weaken your faith witness?

3.     How did this instance help prepare you for the next attack?

4.     Have you ever considered the possibility that at some point you may be tortured for your beliefs?


Share: What word from the Lord has helped you to witness in difficult circumstances?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:35, “…. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.”

When the prophet Jeremiah stood in the Lord’s house and shared the warning given that Israel would be punished for forsaking God’s word, the priest Pashhur struck him and placed him in the stocks for punishment. (Jeremiah 19 & 20)

Perhaps Pashhur hoped both to bully Jeremiah into silence and to discredit him as a false prophet. But Jeremiah continued to witness to God’s word. And continued to be beaten, discriminated against, thrown into prison, placed under restraint and had his written words repeatedly destroyed. For all of his estimated 90 years of life, he remained a faithful witness to God’s words.

In the time of the Maccabees, when rulers tried to force replace Jewish laws of worship with Greek rituals and polluted the temple in Jerusalem, another faithful scribe of advanced years, Eleazar, chose death over unlawful sacrifice. Those around him tried to convince him to fake it—pretend to eat the swine flesh, just to stay alive.  But he refused the pretense so as not to lead the young to think he had turned to a false religion in his old age. He chose to “leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” He walked to the rack himself.

In our times we may not face physical torture, but we might be ridiculed, or discriminated against, or be ostracized within family or workplace. How will we know if our choices or words will bring witness to others or ‘pollute’ our spiritual lives by self-interest? Especially when what is a danger to one person’s faithfulness to the Lord is not to another. Sometimes we will need to speak out and other times remain silent.

Both Jeremiah and Eleazar faced a different attack on their faith witness, but both responded by the power of the Spirit’s guidance in their lives.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4: 12



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 116: 14-15

“I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.”


Friday, November 22, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Widow’s Son


She opened her door

to a man who claimed

to be a prophet.


Yet hospitality

demanded her

obedience to house

this stranger.


He who alone

cared enough  for her

heartbreak to

plead her son’s life

to the Lord.


Witness to the word

alive in each.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Where in your life today are you facing a loss?

2.     Do you trust in God’s words to give you hope regardless of the outcome?

3.     What do you need to let go of in order for God’s truth to enter into the circumstances and bring restoration?


Share: In what situation has God breathed His breath into new life for you?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:35, “Women received their dead by resurrection.”

Anyone who has sat a vigil in the hospital understands the widow’s grasp for hope when the prophet Elijah took her lifeless son up to his room. She had already witnessed the miracle of provision in the oil, but could this prophet who spoke God’s word really bring back breath?

Yet she chose to trust Elijah and released his body.

And Elijah entrusted the boy to prayer and God’s power, not yet knowing the reply.

Three times he called upon the Lord for life.

And the Lord heard the prophet’s voice.

Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” 1 Kings 17:24 Her hope had become not only her reality, but gave witness to the surety of Elijah’s words—God’s truth.  She too became a witness into faith through her suffering.

Lord, Help us to learn to trust your unseen truth regardless of the impossibilities we can see. Show us how to become living witnesses of Your words.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 140:12-13

“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
And justice for the poor.
Surely the righteous will give thanks to Thy name;
The upright will dwell in Thy presence.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Banish


Banished armies

Built garrisons

Brought tribute to Jerusalem

Bronze offerings, gold shields

Brought victory to David

By God’s hands.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     What enemies, within or without, do you need to see put to flight?

2.     What fears do you need banished or turned into a tribute?

3.     What garrisons have you set in place by God’s word to protect your faith?


Share: What recent victory has the Lord given you through His lovingkindness?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


2 Samuel 8:6, “Then David put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus; and the Arameans became servants to David and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.”


The Old Testament is filled with the stories of battle where God gave deliverance. 2 Samuel 8 relates several different sets of foreign enemies that David put to flight under God’s direction. Despite all his wrong choices and sins, David remained faithful to belong to God and his desire to be His servant.

David’s heart was dedicated to God above all else. He sought the Lord’s words—personal communion above all else. He could not bear to be apart from His will.

But he was also well trained in warfare and knew that retaliation was always on the horizon. So he built garrisons. He built in protection. He did not take times of peace for granted. He stayed vigilant and with each victory he turned the tribute to the Lord.

Sometimes we are so grateful for a victory over an enemy without, we don’t see the one diminishing our heart. Or we give thanks and forget to set up protective garrisons of prayer and tribute and become complacent in sustaining a heart-to-heart relationship that seeks only God’s guidance. We doubt our ability to receive His gifts of refuge and training and let false words or false ways become our plans.

Lord, please give us Your eyes of faith to put to flight, to banish, any desires or enticements that can corrupt Your will in our lives.  


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 144:1-2

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle;
My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer;
My shield and He in whom I take refuge; Who subdues my people under me.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Stand


Three hundred men

divided into thirds

given trumpets

for one hand

empty jars with torches

for the other.


These their swords,

yet they stood in place

waited on command

obeyed in unison

won the day’s battle.


Walls that could not

be broken shattered

under God’s word.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions

1.     How difficult is it for you to simply stand in place when there is danger or oppression approaching?

2.     What helps you discern whether a situation requires more or less resources?

3.     What battleground are you standing on right now? In whose strength are you standing?


Share: What unlikely weapon has God given you to use in a time of battle?


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Judges 7:21, “Every man stood in his place all around the camp.”

Our world often extols victory based on quantity equating success with an overwhelming flood of resources, whether manpower or economics, technology or authority.

In the Book of Judges God calls Gideon to be His servant and defeat the power of Midian against Israel. Gideon is astonished. Not only is his house considered the least in Manasseh, but Gideon himself is the youngest. He cannot perceive how he could become mighty in war. Yet over 30,000 men come to battle at his side. Then, in Chapter seven, God reduces Gideon’s army to 300 men, “lest Israel become boastful.” And arms them with trumpets and torches. Not common tactics.

Yet they obey. They stand their ground. And God indeed makes them mighty.

Sometimes we are barely able to manage even standing still when we face circumstances that overwhelm and subjugate us into oppressive days. We cannot imagine a hint of becoming mighty in our battle. Only by the Spirit’s power can we hold our ground to possibly hope relief will come. And still doubts creep in.

 However when we trust Jesus’ promise to “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me..” and take our place under God’s direction, we too can stand firm in the strength of His word.

He gives us His power to become mighty in our daily wars—His way.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 18:39

“For Thou hast girded me with strength for battle;
Thou has subdued under me those who rose up against me.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Breath


Your promise stands

throughout all time

to call on Your name;

to seek Your face.


Hezekiah pleaded

his course changed

added fifteen years.


Yet we continue

to rage or despair

on our own counsel;

forget to ask.

 
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