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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Reflection Run: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry




Reflection Questions


1.     What dreams are you continuing to pursue despite hardship? What dreams did you set aside? What made the difference?

2.     Do you seek the Lord’s guidance every day or only when major changes arise?

3.     What do you think your first reaction would be if God asked you to completely give up the life you are living now and follow a different route?

4.     What would be your final answer?


Share: How do you reassess a commitment that doesn’t seem to make any progress? What question do you ask in prayer?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Run: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 12:1, “and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,”

Run: requires training, energy, discipline, commitment, practice, endurance, and pace.

Or else: we stumble, cramp, tire, fall down, and give up.

Witness the recent events of the World Cup Soccer as the best players across the globe met in the hopes that their training would bring victory. Yet even among the very best some still had an edge.

Viewers admired not only their talents but also their perseverance and preparation to reach their goals. The players knew exactly what they wanted and put in the long hard hours to achieve their dreams.

Are we running the race the Lord has set before us with the same level of determination, or do we fizzle at the first major obstacle? Do we begin to think we need to do it on our own or do we remember His strength is ever present?

It’s so easy that when failures cause us to trip we begin to question if we got the route wrong. Maybe the directions were really for someone else. Or we rearranged the expectations to our own liking.

Lord, please give us each concrete insight as to the race you are calling us to this day, this year, this road without an end in sight. Only when we commit with our whole hearts under Your strength and Your guidance can we reach the finish line.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 37:5-6

“Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him and He will do it.
And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your judgment as the noon day.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Purify: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Purify


The shadows we

wear determines

journey.


Fly or trudge?


When weighted by

sin’s  appeal each

step a cycle

fall—rise—try again

bonded to earth’s grave.


Release the outer

chains, rise higher

above the ground

float free into

possibilities.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reflection Weighted: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     What sin shadows do you often wear?  Why?

2.     If you trust in Jesus’ redeeming grace what is keeping you earthbound in your soul?

3.     Or what promise has enabled you to fly? Why?

4.     How do you cope with the sin weight of those closest to you?



Share: What kind of traveler are you? Baggage light or baggage heavy?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weighted: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 12:1,“let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,”

Just as last week’s witnesses before and present, visible and invisible, encourage us toward a path of promise, so we need to examine what exactly we carry with us as we walk.

Have you ever stood in a line at an airport and wondered how anyone could be traveling with so much baggage? Have you ever been the person that every one stares at as you try to maneuver an overflowing cart of luggage?

Yet perhaps the person with the lightest visible carry-on is actually the one weighted down the most within. Heart and mind and soul heavy.

Even when we want to or try to unload the sin we carry, we often keep it. We hold on for many reasons: it is familiar, we think we can handle it, we consider it a constant reminder of our weaknesses to avoid, or hide, or pay penance for.

Yet they are in reality invisible chains that strangle fresh hope. They weary our bodies and our souls and our minds with a fatigue and sluggishness that we often don’t even recognize.

They slow down the journey, cause resentment from those around us, and steal our joy. But somehow we can’t quite let go. The grip is too strong. Unless we are willing to receive help, or to share the burden with another, or help someone else with theirs. Then we can lift our vision to see our journey with expectancy and new energy.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” We are on this journey by His invitation and by His provision. We can travel light within and without because He walks alongside. Only He can remove  our sin weight. His promise to us.

Lord, please help us to each see the sin we continue to hold onto and relinquish it into Your hands, so that we may travel our days fully released in life.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 63:8

“My soul clings to Thee;
Thy right hand upholds me.”



Friday, July 18, 2014

Promise: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Promise


Stumbling with exhaustion

decisions loom alongside

shadows—no end in sight,

no sign of respite.


Fear nibbles into soul

challenging, mocking.


Suddenly a light

breeze kisses a cheek,

 a caress at neck’s

stiffness, a hint of

song lifts body onward

as surrounding witnesses

pray.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reflection Surrounded: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Have you ever had the experience of a friend or foe consistently on your heart and mind and wonder why? How did you react?

2.     Have you ever been surprised to realize a friend had been praying for you throughout a difficult day or week and you had never told them about your situation? How did that become a witness to you of God’s personal grace?

3.     Do you find the idea of being surrounded by witnesses a comfort or a little overwhelming? Why?


Share: When have you experienced an unexplained peace in the middle of a difficult situation? How did that change your perspective?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Surrounded: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”.

We tend to look askance at anyone who claims to have invisible friends, but here we are given a promise of support by friends visible and invisible, personal friends and perfect strangers.

In times of exhaustion, fear, weakness, and indecision we often can feel lonely and isolated. We may have no sense of even how to take another step. The weight might be so heavy that physically and emotionally we are unable to move forward—or think—or feel.

And yet, even with no strength to even pray, we find ourselves lifted up and our hearts lightened.  And find that friends and family have been praying because they suddenly thought of us, or received a nudge from the Spirit, or a weight of concern.

We are grateful for the community God has blessed up with to pray for each other’s concerns and to celebrate each other’s joys. We become a witness to each other of the living presence of the Lord in our lives and are reminded to listen for those nudges to extend His grace to those around us—both known and unknown.

And when in doubt this promise helps to restore us when we see that those who have gone before us have completed their journey faithfully. We can depend on the promise of respite and relief no matter how long the process. We can believe that no matter the obstacles we will never be left behind or alone.

Witnesses before and present point the path towards joy and not fear, towards springs of living water instead of dry sand. Visible and invisible their encouragement can sustain us.

Thank you, Lord, for Your sustaining power of witness by Your Spirit’s ongoing words.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 121:7-8

“The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.”

Friday, July 11, 2014

Purpose: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


                       Purpose


So anxious to

relieve distress

we grab for solutions

anything for release

like a toddler

tearing into a package

ignoring the wrapping,

the purpose or person—

mind  set only on object

missing the blessings

                        we settle for less.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reflection Wait: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Is there a promise you feel the Lord gave you that you have not seen fulfilled yet?

2.     Are you still trusting or have you given up? Why?

3.     What do you consider to be concrete examples of the Lord’s blessing over our definition of best?

4.     Do you ever feel that you need to measure up to certain standards first in order to receive His promises? Why?

5.     Do you find it difficult to keep your promises to God? What would make it easier?


Share: What promise has the Lord fulfilled for you already that gives you strength to wait again?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wait: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11: 40, “since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.”

Wait.

It’s not something many of us manage to do well. And in our current instant society, it seems to be counterproductive. We each have a personal internal clock that keeps us patient for just so long—and then, we become fidgety, annoyed, irritated, and sometimes hostile. Within our own families, with our closest friends, with those we most care about.

We can’t quite understand that this long list of saints of Hebrews Chapter 11 not only stood firm in their faith, lived and died by it, but also were willing to endure tremendous hardships without actually receiving the promise in hand. 

Instead we assume we are missing out on something good if we have to wait too long. That we are being denied something better. And it’s quite possible that is true. Because our limited sense of better now is so much less than God’s gift of best then.

When we reach out and grab for instant gratification, we might lose the blessing altogether. Like Esau did in his immediate physical hunger. Or delay the promise, like Abraham and Sarah did by trying to help God fix things our way to speed the results. To engineer a man made solution.

In fact, God’s purposes are so much deeper, and richer, and eternal that we cannot comprehend them, unless we are willing to listen and hope and trust. His provision is for perfection. His love encompasses all His people, not just a select few. We need to trust enough.

To wait.

Lord, please give us eyes to seek Your wholeness, a vision that desires grace and salvation for all, and purify our motives to be willing to wait for Your promises to be fulfilled in Your time, and not ours.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 19:7-8

“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul:
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”

Friday, July 4, 2014

Confusion: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Confusion


Above the raging storm

splitting trees,

sliding hills,

wind driven devastation

the sun reigns still and calm.


Within the swirling life

driving doubts

destitute choices

harangued with confusion

the Lord continually reigns with love.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reflection Storm: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Have you ever been in a situation when suddenly in an instant you have become isolated either physically due to a storm, or emotionally due to a broken relationship?  What feelings began to overwhelm you?

2.     Did it create a crisis of faith for you or a deepening? What made the difference?

3.     How did you find the willpower or courage to take a step towards hope?

4.     In what ways has that experience given you faith in later upheavals?


Share: How do you find the Lord’s loving presence in the midst of chaos?


 
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