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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reflection: Bondslaves: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Do you tend to listen to Scripture advice by some trusted friends but not by others? What marks the difference?

2.     Have you had the opportunity to share truth unexpectedly? Has it helped you to recognize Spirit nudges on other occasions?

3.     Oswald Chambers says, “You may be a mouthpiece for God’s truth; but you cannot nourish the sheep of God unless you are willing to let God use you as broken bread and poured out wine to feed His sheep.”

How does this thought connect with this week’s verse?



Share: Do you feel qualified or not to share God’s word? Why?


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bondslaves: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reading: Acts 2:18

“Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my spirit; and they shall prophesy.”

Even upon My bondslaves…, says the NAS translation. The prophecy repeated the message with a difference, now cutting through presumed hierarchies and gender and wealth. How astonishing the words must have been originally and here again repeated by Peter, a lowly fisherman, and again today in our era where we add the popularity of “who’s who” in our public consideration of others.

Bondslaves then bound by human ownership. Bondslaves now bound by Grace—sacrificial love—redemption—Jesus.

When God’s Spirit is poured out the people will prophesy—will speak His words into situations, into lives, into hope.  Perhaps even without their knowledge or understanding.

“For as the rain and the now come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding, in the matter for which I sent it. 
                                                                     NAS Isaiah 55:10-11

When the Spirit is present no one is exempt from receiving truth. When our hearts are faithful and ready we are not exempt from being messengers of His words.

Lord, please cleanse all our speech daily, by Your Spirit’s winnowing, so that with or without our knowing we will speak Your truth regardless of seen or unseen results.


Psalm of Worship: Genesis 1:18

“To rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”

Friday, September 25, 2015

Visions: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           
           Visions


            Holy Spirit poured out

            flowing like water

            over everyone, just as

            Joel prophesied

            new visions—new dreams

            fresh from God’s heart
           
            as a returning sunrise

            brings dawn into day

            so arrives this beginning.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Reflections: Dreams: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions



1.     Why do we need to Biblically confirm dreams and visions when they come into our lives?

2.     Do you think that sometimes we become so committed to verification that we ruin or manipulate God’s words? How?

3.     How does Paul’s example free us to recognize checks and balances without giving up?



Share: How have you received a confirmation in the past from the Holy Spirit?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dreams: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reading: Acts 2:17

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

Just like the Israelites we believe in God’s prophecies and we know there are concrete stories of His revealed plans in visions and dreams. And yet often we hesitate to expect them into our everyday plans or even in quiet retreats for ourselves.

Or we do accept the dreams and visions and then promptly begin to second-guess our interpretation. The path to the vision is not the way we have chosen; it doesn’t seem to be well planned. It really doesn’t make practical sense. We are too young or too old. The cost might be too high.

We have an abundance of worrying barriers that we set up as our litmus test which too often wears us into such weariness that we give up before we even let the match light the fire. We forget that God will break through our ignorance and our misunderstandings.

At the end of his second missionary journey, after a sharp disagreement that separated Paul and Barnabus, Paul, along with Timothy, began a return trip through the towns and cities that had growing churches. However they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia and were not permitted to go to Bithynia. Can’t help but wonder if Paul questioned this sweep of barricades.

And then Paul received a vision of a man in Macedonia appealing for help. “..immediately we sought to go…concluding that God had caused us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:10 NAS

Paul didn’t worry over the closed and opened doors. He just kept moving. His heart was set solidly on going wherever God led him regardless of practicality, presumed common sense, or cost. He had learned to live actively into God’s words—His flow in His time—His vision.

Lord, help us all to see the dreams You inspire, and then, seek Your Spirit to guide us moment by moment.


Psalm of Worship: Genesis 1:17

“God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Spoken: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



            Spoken


            Spoken words of prophecy

            so long ago proclaimed
           
            now perhaps only a dream

            never to be fulfilled

            sorrow edged thought

            stale bread today.

            No, Peter shouts. Words

            never lost or forgotten

            see, listen, understand,

            Spirit has come as promised.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Reflection: Now: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry




Reflection Questions


1.     Why do you think it is difficult for us to accept God’s promises as including us in the here and now?

2.     How does that sense of forgotten tempt us to wander away from God’s plans?

3.     Or encouraged a sense of coldness in our hearts?

4.     What word from the Lord do you need for a fresh vision now?


Share: What helps you to ask in hope and anticipation?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Now: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reading: Acts 2:16

“No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:”

‘Do you remember when…’ are often words leading into stories around campfires and holidays when friends and family gather. And some reply to the proclamations as ‘that didn’t happen’, or ‘you’re imagining it.’ Or perhaps, a special circumstance is brought back from memories with a deep sigh and results in joy. Or a bit of sorrow that a dream didn’t get fulfilled.

And often we still take that same attitude into our present lives. It’s too late. That is meant for someone else—not me. I no longer care. I’ve had too many disappointments to try again. It’s just another false promise.

Not only are we ourselves in the hand of the Lord, but all that surrounds us. Our times make up a kind of atmosphere of existence; and all this is under diving arrangement. We dwell within the palm of God's handC.H. Spurgeon made this comment based on Psalm 31:15, “My times are in Thy hand”, noting that we are never apart from God and, “Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment.”


Peter reminded his audience that the words of the prophet Joel were meant for now. In their own time they were the recipients of the almost forgotten prophecies. Hear the words again he said; listen to the promise.

When John the Baptist began his ministry he reminded his listeners of Isaiah’s words, “Make ready the way of the Lord.”  Jesus began His first sermon with Isaiah’s words of prophecy, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me..”.

The promises were spoken in the past, but the time is now.

Lord, please keep us from wandering away from Your plans and visions You once ignited in our hearts and dreams. Give us clarity to recognize the ones we do need to let go of if Your Spirit  says no, but also give us courage to grasp those still ahead, and especially those we need to remember right now regardless of the atmosphere  surrounding us.


Psalm of Worship: Genesis 1:16

“God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.”



Friday, September 11, 2015

Heed: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



                        
                        Heed


                        Do not make assumptions,

he proclaims,

based on outward circumstances;

heed the time

be prepared for surprise

designated for here and now

too often dismiss unusual

too judgmental of others

too controlling for changes

and miss Spirit’s whispered

announcement

                        amazement

                        this new morning.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reflection: Assumptions: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry




Reflection Questions


1.     Walk though one ordinary day this week and try to track how many ‘assumptions’ you find yourself making.

2.     How many were clearly obvious and how many were based more on your personal outlook?

3.     Do you recognize a particular bias? For example, I have an immediate reaction against any one being rude even if I’m not personally involved.

4.     How do you cope with your built in bias without it making you fume all day?


Share:  How can you bring the Lord into the situation?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Assumptions: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reading: Acts 2:15

“Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.”

Unfortunately in many of our large cities today this would be considered ordinary and not a false assumption. If, in fact, we do happen to see something out of the ordinary, we often assume aberrant behavior or perhaps an advertising gimmick.

I am finding that the older I get the more I make quick surface judgments, and some are too close to labeling. We tend to categorize people and places as if by map districts and leave no room for the unexpected. We’re too busy to process, too set on our own agendas.

Unless we can stop and pause, and look at the interruption or confusion prayerfully looking for guidance beyond our knee-jerk reactions. Take time at the end of the day to pause and ponder what we saw and heard and reacted to. Then listen quietly for a few moments to see if the Lord has a word, or an encouragement, or a reminder, or a task He wants us to see and consider and act upon.

In His grace and power, Jesus works in kairos time—a place of hope and healing and new perspectives. Lord, help us to each recognize when we are to stop and pay attention and not just make false assumptions based on our own limited reality. Give us Your light to distinguish the true from the false without any form of prejudice.


Psalm of Worship: Genesis 1:15

“’and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.”


Friday, September 4, 2015

Listen: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


                       
                        Listen
           
Once before he argued
denied and ran away.

Bereft then in a grief
mixed with guilt.

Met and forgiven.

Now begins to become his
given name Jesus declared Rock.

Standing with eleven.

Facing crowds with courage
Shouts for their attention—Listen!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reflection: Peter: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry




Reflection Questions


1.     How difficult is it for you to share God’s truth with those around you? Why?

2.     What kind of fear can get in our way?

3.     By what means can we speak His truth in silent words when unable to directly address those around us?

4.     Do you remember the first time you heard God’s truth spoken to you? What was your first reaction?


      Share: How has the Lord given you courage this week?

 
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