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Monday, September 29, 2014

Introduction: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’”

In previous series as we have been reading Scripture to understand how we can respond to Paul’s call “to lay aside the old self…and put on the new self,” we have looked at turning away from the world’s ways, beginning discipleship, and stepping into a life of faith. Now  in this new series we examine what it means to be sent back into the world as Jesus said, only now as ambassadors for God. How does He define the role of envoy or messenger of His words? What does He mean by all the world and the whole creation?

We are familiar with the concept of apprenticeship where a person will study under a Master Craftsman until deemed ready to venture out on their own—now as an experienced, capable, and polished expert ready to train others.

But God gave this charge to Israel when they were still struggling to become a nation and still considered an infant from the world’s perspective: “Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” Psalm 96:2-3 NAS

Jesus sends His overwhelmed disciples out after a few years of relationship with Him when they got almost everything He taught them confused. He gave them one strong word of counsel: Wait for the Holy Spirit, and one promise: He would be with them always until the end of days.

On his missionary journeys Paul often left a new group of believers as witnesses and ambassadors after only a few weeks and in some instances a few days. How? What could they possibly have to share? Often we stumble over words within our own families.

Israel also struggled to understand this new role as they entered the Promised Land in the Book of Joshua. New Christians wrestled with a new form of church—a new shape to worship in the book of Acts, and believers are still exhorted to speak God’s words and His story today—sometimes under great deprivation and battle. Revelation warns us of corrupted churches and insidious values.

His story. To us and through us to others by His Holy Spirit. His words. Whether we’ve only known Jesus for a few days or for decades. We share His life changing words that we have seen and touched and felt personally—even when we mess up—maybe especially when we mess up.

This study unfolds as stories of decision and indecision, small personal choices and large public commitments, silent personal prayers and strong battle armor. Mondays we will reflect on a Scripture passage. Wednesdays we'll consider meditative questions. Fridays we'll respond with poetry.

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

Lord, please speak Your words in our hearts and souls and thoughts so that we may always be ready to give Your words of truth and hope and grace as You send us into everyday living.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 146:5-9

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord their God,
Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
Who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphans and widows.”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Complete: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Complete


From the first

glimpse of possibility

light gave a promise.


From dawn to dusk

variated shades

mark days with hope.


At the beginning

life.


At the finish

eternity.


Alpha and Omega complete

finished Word.


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


Thank you for walking this faith journey over these past several months. Please join me for a new series of reflections beginning next week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reflection Alpha and Omega: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry




Reflection Questions


1.     Do you see your faith as strong or fragile or both?

2.     What contributes to either version?

3.     Take each line of the Psalm above and use it as a prayer statement over the next week.


Share: Which one speaks deepest in your faith walk?







Monday, September 22, 2014

Alpha and Omega: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Revelation 22:12-13, “See, I am coming soon, my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

Like physical life, faith begins in hope and in many ways remains unseen until after the fact.  There is a worship song that contains the line, “From life’s first cry till final breath...”. We recognize the fragility of new birth as well as ending days and we protect both milestones of those we love with tender care and constant love.

Not that we ignore the in between years but often allow self-sufficiency and concrete visible reliance to support us. Unless asked we respect each other’s right to self—both positively and negatively—choice. But it can be a very lonely and barren life that excludes love and friendship, family and community. And lack of accountability can lead to deep physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering.

From the moment we recognize and accept Jesus’ gift of life He never leaves. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit seal us with His name and we are life breathed into His kingdom. Yet often we continue to carry our self-sufficiency with us and do not recognize, or are willing to accept, that this new life cannot reach its fullness apart from Jesus. He is our beginning and our end spiritually. 

Apart from His mercy and His breath in us we cannot reach or become the person He has created and called us to be. It’s not a one-time step but a moment-by-moment way of breathing in new life: the beginning and ending of each day, each season, each choice or decision, each crossroad, and each relationship.

Without His word alive within we do not have the capability to do the work He appoints. We are unable to return our lives as an offering. Unless we accept His gift of life—His mercy—His ongoing Presence in our lives—His provision for us to not only receive eternal life but the addition of rewards as well.

Thank you, Lord, that You are our beginning and our end for all the days that exist. Thank you for Your gift of faith to enable us to walk a road we rarely even recognize.
Than you for Your Grace that does not ever abandon us.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 19:7-9

“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.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true, they are righteous altogether.”


Friday, September 19, 2014

Protect: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Protect


Promises made in haste

often broken,

chisel rims in

relationships

divide motives

build barriers.

Promises made in love

offer hope,

consistently fulfill

replenish

divine words

build communion.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reflection Promises: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry




Reflection Questions


1.     How have broken promises affected your spiritual relationship with Jesus?

2.     Have you found it difficult to acknowledge and accept Biblical promises? Why?

3.     Or have they been a relief for you? How?

4.     Have you made a promise to a loved one or to the Lord that you still need to fulfill? What do you need to be able to fulfill your commitment with love?


Share: What scripture promise continues to sustain you in difficult times?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Promises: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 12:2, “and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Personally we have all made promises that we could not keep. Perhaps made in haste and forgotten, or deeply sincere but without the means or the authority needed to see them through to completion.

We have also all had promises broken to us, and so we are either leery of promises or consider them casual commitments when others make them. Especially from those in power.

Publicly our world history is replete with misused and manipulated promises made in almost every field of our lives: political, educational, financial, and spiritual as leadership at all levels break their words. Abuse their positions.

When Jesus went to the cross the disciples thought He had broken His promises made when He began His ministry. That the authorities had won. His hope, spoken from Isaiah, given at the beginning of public ministry, now merely dust. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are downtrodden, To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Purpose shattered.

When in reality, Jesus completely fulfilled all the promises God has made to His people forever. Past, present, and future promises all completed by Jesus’ grace and mercy.

Words now concrete—irrefutable.

Jesus fulfills His promises through absolute authority. Protects His promises. Exercised through immeasurable sacrificial love.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 93: 1-2

“The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.
Thy throne is established from of old; Thou art from everlasting.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

Opinion: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Opinion


Click clack confidence

beats a path across

the room, up the stairs

matching inner hum.


Footsteps in sync

catches glimpse of a frown

step falters slightly,

shrug, resume, then a repeat.


Halts for a moment

takes stock

resumes pace now as

unobtrusive shuffle

confidence pierced.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reflection Shame: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions
 

1.     Have you ever chosen to accept shame regardless of your innocence? Why?

2.     Was your decision influenced by the Holy Spirit or by peer pressure? How did that affect your faith and your heart?

3.     Who has the most influence on your personal reputation? Why?



Share: What has helped you to cope with false opinions?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Shame: Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 12:2, “disregarding its shame,”

The time had come. Time to complete His heart’s goal. Time to return to glory, to His Father’s side. Time to bridge the chasm of separation. Time to bring redemption and reconciliation. Time for timeless Grace.

Public shame and personal reputation were of no account. Slander, lies, deceit, unlawful trials, illegal beatings, could not deter Him or prevent Him from reaching His purpose. For us.

Yet, how easily do we get pulled away from a purpose, or a call, or even a nudge by the Spirit, when ridicule or sarcasm whispers their influence? It doesn’t even need to come from others. Often we talk ourselves out of an action when we consider all the personal and public inconvenience that might be involved.

Verbal and non-verbal disapproval. Actual shame and embarrassment. Misunderstanding from those closest to us. Humiliation.

So we fold. And then are in shame before the Lord’s presence. Because we didn’t cling to His voice alone. And we failed Him.

And then His Spirit brings us back to the cross where He disregarded shame and we are redeemed again and again.

Lord, please give us Your strength to put all personal reputation aside when You ask. Disentangle us from our-self-first and put You first. Please put Your heart’s desire into our hearts that we might be messengers of Your grace.



Psalm of Worship: Psalm 69:18-19                                 

“Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it;
Ransom me because of my enemies!
Thou dost know my reproach and my shame and my dishonor;
All my adversaries are before Thee.”

 
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