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Friday, December 30, 2016

Stones: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


            Stones


            Stones to build

            stones to throw away

            not always clear

            need wisdom to discern

            what piece belongs where

            when we build upon His cornerstone.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Reflection:Invitation: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     How easily does blame follow disappointments or rejections?

2.     What helps us recognize our individual responsibility to wrong decisions?

3.     How do God’s warnings here help to ground our discernment?



Share: What promise from God has helped you choose His cornerstone in a difficult situation?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Invitation: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: 1 Peter 2: 7-8

“To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builder rejected has become the very head of the corner’ and ‘A stone that makes him stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”

Will we accept His invitation?

In “The Parable of the Two Houses” in Mark 7, Jesus warned His followers to build their house upon the rock so that when the rains came their homes would not wash away. There are many stretches along the California coastline where homes and businesses were built on panoramic cliffs that have since tumbled into the ocean or have hazard warnings to not enter. Like fool’s gold they may have looked solid and inviting at first glance, but underground soil hid behind unstable stones unable to hold in the storms.

Only honest expertise could discern between the stable and unstable; but builders and buyers did not always listen. Where does the blame lie?

God gifts all generations with His precious cornerstone of life and grace and mercy. Yet still we fall prey to false prophets and tantalizing false stones masquerading as precious gems. 

And then we claim, “not my responsibility.” Blame circumstances or others for our own choices that result in our stumbling consequences.

Yet still Jesus stands firm, ready to forgive, ready to restore, ready to change us into eternal wholeness instead of worldly dust.

Step by step, stone by stone, we are invited to build.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:7

“Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!”


Friday, December 23, 2016

Build: Living Stones: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


            Build


            Living stones.


            Built on truth foundation

            forgiveness—grace—mercy

            ongoing ministry of

            welcome and restoration

            built on Spirit wisdom

            guidance—strength—sacrifice

            breathe of hope.


            Living Stones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reflection: Living Stones: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     In what way does holding onto malice and guile, insincerity, envy, and slander poison nurture and keep us from growing?

2.     How can we remove them and replace with wholeness, discernment, and vision?

3.     As a living stone Jesus was, “rejected by mortals,” yet precious and chosen in God’s sight. Do we see ourselves as precious and chosen as well? Why or why not?

4.     What are some “acceptable” spiritual sacrifices we can choose to give?


Share: How have you “tasted that the Lord is good” this week?


Monday, December 19, 2016

Living Stones: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-6

“Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure, spiritual milk so that by it you may grow into salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone,…..like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ….and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

We choose to feed our children with wholesome milk and nourishment knowing how important it is to their physical growth. But as adults we often choose to eat junk food or random diets without seriously considering possible long-term side effects. Those who are glucose intolerant require a specific gluten free diet for their health, but for those who are not intolerant removing gluten from their diet can then create hazardous health.

How often do we consider our spiritual diet with as much discernment as our physical? Peter points out that the outcome can become critical for our salvation as well as our daily living.

Seeking the goodness that the Lord provides infuses our stone hearts, judgmental attitudes, and dry souls with love, mercy, and truth. In His ongoing power and strength we learn to live and grow into a new relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the Lord.

A spiritual house, Peter says, where all are considered precious and cherished. A place where hearts can become whole.

Jesus has become the cornerstone and then invites us to join His ministry. To build—grow a new foundation—and taste His goodness.


Lord, please fill us with Your light and grace and keep us listening to Your words of love that we may become living stones by Your hand.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27: 6

“Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with  shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.”

Friday, December 16, 2016

Longing: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


            Longing


            Like small waves

            lapping at edges

            they gathered with joy

            attracted others

            their curiosity peaked

            and heard the story

            lovingly drew side by side

            longing for truth.

-->

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Reflection: Gathered: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     How often do you think our church gatherings ‘invite’ onlookers to participate?

2.     In what ways do we say welcome but our attitudes and actions set up restrictions?

3.     What do you long for in gathering of worship?


Share: What keeps your heart gladdened to attend worship in your community?



Monday, December 12, 2016

Gathered: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Acts 2: 46-47

“Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”


Kindness—generosity—praise—joy—in their gathering together brought the attraction of others. Created a curiosity that sought a reason or a story or a longing. Gave the new community the opportunity to share their gifts of grace and new foundations of their lives.

Life a warm fire on a cold night they lit a light of welcome.

Do we?

How often do our own emotions or barricades build silent walls? Maybe we don’t even realize it—do our best—then wonder why a visitor did not return or a family left.

A family dispute in the car—an unsettling situation at work that week—an anxious wait for a test result---can automatically turn us inward—unable, or unwilling, to share our grief as much as our joy.

Yet at the gathering here in Jerusalem the people were still under Roman rule with backbreaking consequences. Many were now exiled from their own families due to their decision to follow Jesus. His close family and friends still missed His presence. The onlookers knew much of these sorrows. So the people watching them wondered, how could they gather in praise?

How can we still gather in praise and joy in the midst of deep conflict and grief?  Extend open welcome and generosity.

Christ centered—together—sharing openly our heartaches and blessings—extending kindness by God’s grace.  Offered to each generation. Offered to each who seeks.  Recognizing another longing heart.

Opportunity to listen with care.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:5

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.”



Friday, December 9, 2016

Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Generosity


            Generosity flows

            when hearts feel safe

            secure in love

            that does not let go.


            Frees hands to serve

            without selfish pursuit

            solace apart from strings

            that require compensation.


            Redeemed hearts

            whisper encouragement

            strengthen all

            those who stagger.


            Recognize common ground.



            

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Reflection: Community: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     Do you think it is possible for groups of Christians to replicate this type of community in these times? Why? Or why not?

2.     Are there ways we can still meet each other’s needs? How?

3.     What other needs might a community be able to share together towards wholeness?


Share: What is your definition of generosity?


Monday, December 5, 2016

Community: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Acts 2:43-45

“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as they had need.”

A fresh outpouring of Spirit that bound those present into a new beginning—a new perception of grace—a new style of community.

Generous not from plenty but from trust and love. In awe of grace.

So hard for us to fully understand. So difficult to be so spontaneously trusting—even when we believe. The questions arise yearly, weekly, daily—how much time can we share—how many resources—what if this happens or that—will we be able to keep our commitments to our families or to others. What will happen if we fail? Without realizing it we forget to trust in the Spirit’s guidance and generosity.  Especially in seasons of personal poverty, whether of body or soul or resources.

How much have worldly views crept into our worship lives and colored our expectations and commitments? Are we still in awe of what the Lord has done and is doing in our own worship communities? Do we seek His guidance in trust and wonder at possibilities? Through whose lens do we watch in expectation of nurture?

Lord, please forgive our fears that keep us not only from trusting in Your ongoing provision, but also hesitant to give to others by setting our boundaries instead of seeking the guidance of Your Holy Spirit. Release us from narrow perceptions.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:4

“One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fellowship: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


            Fellowship


            Life nurturing foundation

            flowing as living stones

            words of truth giving

            perspective. Fellowship

            sustaining hope consistently.


            Cost of communion

            piercing reminder of gift.


            Prayers led by Spirit

            for power, guidance, wisdom.


            Life devoted to redemptive love.



            

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reflection: Foundation: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     In what ways does your fellowship of believers sustain you? Sustain each other?

2.     Which of these foundations are you most comfortable with? Which are you most uncomfortable with?

3.     Why do you think we need to remember the cost of communion?


Share: Which of these foundations do you most need?


Monday, November 28, 2016

Foundation: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Acts 2:42

“They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Foundations upon which to build. Not rigid rules to coerce participation. Instead, a fluid, organic, gathering out of respect, love, and search to worship. 

Devoted. A strong ongoing hunger to know God’s word and seek its truth and power in every aspect of life. To return to it again and again to ground actions with heart and heart into actions. Under His authority.

Fellowship. No one left alone, isolated, or ignored. Singles, families, strangers, travellers all found a safe haven to gather and share life burdens, hopes, and calling. To seek discernment. To be embraced.

Breaking of bread. Reminder of redemption, cost of new life, center of purpose, soul alignment to everlasting truth regardless of present history. Together—communal. Confidence in trial.

The prayers. Prayers of the past promises to seek once more. Prayers of protection from immediate dangers. Prayers to become attuned to God’s design, heart, purposes His way.  Prayers for healing minds, souls, and bodies. Clarity for daily decisions and choices.

Grace grounded in Christ. Community grounded in His love. Consistent throughout all generations. Ongoing invitation. Holy Spirit present.

Lord, thank you for Your foundations where we can find hope and encouragement in relationships through You to each other.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27: 3

“Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.”


Friday, November 25, 2016

Promise: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



                       Promise

                       
                        Promise stands

                        ever ready

                        throughout all generations

                        for hearts open

                        to turn from corruption

                        seek kingdom life

                        baptism waters

                        ever ready

                        flowing into eternity

                        break sin’s power.
 
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