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Monday, January 30, 2017

Pergamum: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelation 2:12-17

“These are the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.”

The church at Pergamum dealt with an ongoing battle of lies and deceit, verbal manipulation, false religion, and evil, which led to one named witness of God’s truth being killed. Perhaps there were more. Yet the death of Antipas in their midst made all the threats against the believers very real.

“Yet, you are holding fast to my name, you did not deny your faith in me..”. The faithful stayed the course of truth whether or not speaking it and living it brought conflict.

The message to this church gives them three powerful promises to cling to. Manna—provision from the Lord’s hand alone. White stone—release. A new name—new life.

In ancient times a white stone would have been recognized as a “favorable verdict” whether in a vote, or ticket to a public function, or drawing lots in a criminal case. The white stone was considered to be an “imperishable” decision.

“To everyone that conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

In the Lord’s hands, the two-edged sword brought rescue, hope, and blessing to those who held to the truth.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:12


“Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.”

Friday, January 27, 2017

Fear: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


            Fear


            Fear trickles like ice water

            throughout our thoughts,

            hearts, mind freezing

            hope.


            Ice barriers insurmountable.


            Trust cracks terror

            into shards, sweeps away

            giving strength to endure


            moment by moment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Reflection: Smyrna: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     What do you fear most that could happen in your life?

2.     What do you fear the most right now in your life?

3.     What direct word from the Lord will you peace and courage today?

4.     Ask.


Share: How do you trust moment to moment?

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Smyrna: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelation 2:8-11

“I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich…Do not fear what you are about to suffer.”

“Be faithful until death, and “I will give you the crown of life…Whoever conquers will be not be harmed by the second death.”

‘Looks can be deceiving’ is a warning we have often heard growing up and pass along to the next generation. We are encouraged to not take things for granted and look beyond the surface.

But no one can see directly into our hearts and thoughts and souls as clearly as the Lord does. We may look good on the outside, even in the mirror, yet the Lord knows what worries and anxious thoughts weaken our lives when doubts and confusion and real fear stalk us.

Fear of the unknown and fear of the known can both paralyze our actions and our hope, for ourselves, or for others.

Jesus doesn’t pretend not to see our fear or pretend it doesn’t exist. Not only does He name our fears, when we are willing to listen, but He may even add a few more details that cause us to tremble. He doesn’t pretend that real suffering doesn’t exist.

Instead.

He brings the evil into His light—His power—His dominion.

He reminds us that whatever the outcome will be He brings life. He will conquer and asks us to believe, to stand firm. Whatever prison we may be entering into for however many days ahead He is present and at work. Trust.

Lord, please give us Your strength in times of terror, and by Your grace a faith that will conquer.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:11

“Teach me your way. O Lord, and lead me on a level path

because of my enemies.”

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lampstand: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



                       Lampstand


                        Lampstand can shine

                        dim or bright

                        sending message of weariness

                        or stalwart hope.


                        Love enables decision

                        desires full heart

                        saturated with Spirit’s


                        open hands.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reflection: Ephesus: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     In what ways can weariness in a worship community damage themselves spiritually?

2.     What might early signs of warning of decay be as a group, or for individuals?

3.     How can a lack of love affect witness towards each other and the Lord even when our beliefs are strong?


Share: In what ways does your worship community maintain an environment of love and respect for each other?


Monday, January 16, 2017

Ephesus: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelation 2: 1-7

“I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and you have not grown weary. But…you have abandoned the love you had at first."

"Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”


Historically lighthouses are known for saving many ships and lives due to their light in the storm. But history also has several stories of  “wreckers” who deliberately lured ships to crash on reefs so as to plunder them.

Listen! The warning comes to this Ephesus church—this lampstand of truth–so it can conquer any rot or decay before it can destroy.

This warning, and those to follow to the other early churches, are spoken in love and not punishment, in truth and not deceit, in hope and not destruction. The purpose is to restore broken worship and relationships within their communities before failure.

And these concerns are being given to the early churches—the ones who had first hand witnesses of Jesus’ life and sacrifice and grace. The ones who began in joy of life and beauty, in joy of hope and compassion, in joy of His redeeming grace that they couldn’t wait to share with others.

Where does our witness from our church communities today convey joy? To each other, or to other denominations, or to nonbelievers? How much do we need to hear the same warnings?

How do we not become like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time so diligent to protect God’s words that they became blind to the needs of their people? So determined to hang on to their definition of power that they crucified their own Messiah.

“You have abandoned the love you had at first.”

Lord, please renew our hearts to be able to sing as the psalmist, “give praise, O servants of the Lord, you that stand in the house of the Lord,….sing to His name for He is gracious.” (Psalm 135) Show us how we share Your hope in all circumstances.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:10

“If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.”



Friday, January 13, 2017

Entrust: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


                        Entrust

                        Truth, righteousness
                        speaks without words
                        like a sunrise or sunset
                        captures awed silence.

                        Trust His words
                        to speak  beyond our ignorance
                        a pause to reflect
                        notice new possibilities.

                        Only One can judge
                        with justice
                        see heart’s response
                        with clarity.

                        Only One able to
                        turn abuse into forgiveness
                        anger into peace
                        trials into hope.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Reflection: Beloved: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     Do you accept the name “beloved” for yourself from the Lord? Why or why not?

2.     Looking at the list in this passage of conditions we are to accept, which do you think is the most difficult in our culture today?

3.     Which is most difficult for you personally?

4.     How do you think that by doing right the “ignorance of the foolish” can be silenced?


Share: How have you entrusted yourself to God’s justice this week?




Monday, January 9, 2017

Beloved: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: 1 Peter 2: 11-25

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. ……When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.”

“Beloved.” Is it harder to accept warnings or suggestions when we know they come from a heart of love, or does it make the decisions to agree or disagree more difficult?

These conditions do not change even if the actual methods change. And there are so many more added to this list as history produces more and more ways to exercise war: physically, emotionally, financially, politically, mentally and spiritually.

“Wage war against the soul.” A different perspective. We are asked to accept?

Accept the “authority of every human institution,” the “authority of your masters with deference…but also to those who are harsh.”  Honor everyone?

No retaliation—yet no compromise either. We are to live honorably, doing good deeds, respecting the aliens and exiles, sharing our lives, becoming a stark contrast to whatever strain of abuse and evil lives among us by using different methods. Methods that will not break souls.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.”

Lord, please keep us bound to you, heart to heart, soul to soul, Your words to our walk. Build us into your foundation.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27: 9

“Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation.”


Friday, January 6, 2017

Mercy: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



            Mercy


            Mercy freely given

            shatters cement hearts

            mirrors love’s power

            beyond understanding

            mends fractured lives


            into a new people.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Reflection: Chosen: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     Do you think of yourself or others as chosen, or a royal priesthood? Why or why not?

2.     What does that look like to us as ‘common’ people without degrees in ministry?

3.     Can even the quiet ones among us proclaim? How?

4.     What are some ways we can keep “seeking His face”?


Share: What mercy have you been given this week?


Monday, January 2, 2017

Chosen: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: 1 Peter 2: 9-10

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you might proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Do you remember times on the playground in school or camp where teams were chosen? Were you quietly thinking ‘pick me, pick me’, or ‘don’t pick me’? What about now at home or work or organizations?

Being chosen for any task implies a responsibility. And even when we deeply desire the opportunity we don’t always feel capable. Or qualified. Or confident we won’t fail.

Yet here the Lord calls His people not only chosen but priests and holy. So far beyond our deepest desires or strengths—even those with some pastoral training. Chosen by the Lord Himself—why—how—for what purpose—here—now—in my family—my work—my community?

Is it not as staggering a concept for us today as it was then?

And yet, we have been called out of darkness. We have received His mercy. We have been gifted with His light and His Spirit. We have been given truth to share.

Chosen to pass it on. Chosen to encourage hope. Chosen to love others as He has loved us. In His strength, not ours. So any act of mercy is possible. Proclaim.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27: 8

“’Come’, my heart says, ‘Seek his face!’
Your face Lord so I seek.”


 
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