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Monday, February 27, 2017

Laodicea: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelation 3: 14-22

“I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, … I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Tepid—indifferent—couldn’t care less—unenthusiastic—perfunctory. All of these adjectives for lukewarm can easily be applied to various chores I’d like to avoid but need to take responsibility for. And they will get done eventually and most likely half-heartedly.

Unless, I’m preparing for a special occasion, or friends or family dropping by, and then suddenly I’m humming as I work or happily energetic. Suddenly it’s not a task motive—but a heart one.

Likewise we can become so used to using our gifts and talents in particular ministries that we think we have it all under control, when instead we’re working by rote. Not realizing that our actions have become external habits instead of internal heart compassion. We’re more focused on the tasks to be completed that the purpose behind them.

And we become extremely offended if anyone should question us. Even when the Spirit tries to intercede and nudges us into paying attention that we’ve gotten off course. Or become too comfortable with our programs.

“Listen! I am standing at the door knocking;”

Whether as individuals or a community we’re not supposed to work under our own steam and under our own agendas. Especially when we think we’ve got it all under control. We don’t see what the Lord sees except we look through His lens and His counsel.

Lord, please keep our hearts, our sight, and our hearing attuned to Your purpose. Keep us from becoming tepid believers.


Psalm of Worship: Isaiah 55:2

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.”



Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Lenten Retreat Preview "Book of Lamentations"


A Lenten Journal Excerpt Day One


Day One


Scripture Reading: Lamentations 1:1-2


Personal Reflection



                                        Desolate


Darkened night
desolate streets
not the rest of dreams
nor of peace.

Rather despair spreading
rustling through
bondage packaged
built in reckless.

Abandon over years
a self-designed
city once puffed with pride
crumbles under foundation.

Weeps bitter tears
without hope.
Onlookers scoff
or mourn
lost heritage
lost legacy.
                                                                       

Writing Prompt

1.     In what ways do you identify with this city’s lament? Do you have areas in your life that have changed or been lost?
2.     Have you experienced an enormous loss or a betrayal of a friend?
3.     How are you expressing your disappointment to God? To others?
4.     How else has your relationship with the Lord been affected?

Psalm of Worship

“Do not fret because of the wicked; do not be envious of wrong doers."Psalm 37:1

Today’s Thought


                                             Blessings, Marcy





Friday, February 24, 2017

Choose: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Choose
           

            Powerless before trial

            set before entire world

            time to choose whose

            name , words to trust.


            Only one offers life

            eternal, stands guard

            every day protecting

            all who claim His name.


            Stand by and conquer by


            His promise.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reflection Philadelphia: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     Why does it take courage to walk through God’s open doors?

2.     Do you always trust in His promise? Why, or why not?

3.     Is there a door you are hoping God will unlock for you?

4.     Have you asked for His power or have you been trying to open it on our own?  Why?



Share: What are you holding fast to until Jesus comes?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Lenten Retreat Preview "Book of Lamentations"


                                Journal Excerpt Suggestions
           
Through Lent’s loss we begin to recognize the shadows and barriers we set around God’s promises and reopen His call to pursue life under His influence.

This journal is a forty-day retreat to pause and be invited to connect our spiritual hunger with God’s loving gift. We can recalibrate a new beginning into our lives even in the midst of extreme brokenness.

Let the passages, poems, and writing prompts refresh and restore your heart in the Lord’s everlasting grace, either personally or in a small group setting.

 Whether you choose to use this journal as a reference or set up your own study here are some suggestions for daily contemplation.

                                               
                                      Suggestions for Use 

 After reading each Scripture, write your own immediate personal prayer or reflection as “Today’s Thought.” Then choose from the writing prompts a particular focus for yourself. Write it up as a journal entry, a memory, or a vignette. Afterward, read the Psalm quote and write out a brief thought or word to carry through the day as a prayer or focus to meditate on.

May the following passages, poems, and writing prompts refresh and restore your heart in the Lord’s everlasting grace. And form a foundation of hope for present or future sorrow knowing His love is eternal.


                                                  Blessings, Marcy

Monday, February 20, 2017

Philadelphia: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelations 3:7-13

“Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word, and have not denied my name.”

How can we discern whether a door is closed by the Lord’s protection, or a door He waits for us to open in faith?

How often do we ignore open doors and assume they are for someone else?

Too often I have allowed personal fear and anxiety to keep me from new opportunities, or persuaded myself the door isn’t opening for me.

Yet, His word here promises He will not let anyone shut the door if He has chosen it.  Then He waits for us to choose. He does not force us—or bully us—or condemn us—or lie to us.

Look. First we need to be willing to see. To acknowledge His guidance.

Powerless. Then recognize our weakness. To accept His power instead of our own.

Courage. “I am coming soon, hold fast to what you have.”

Key. His key alone locks and unlocks.

Promise. His word—His name.

Love. His is Eternal.

Lord, please give us courage to listen, to see, to respond, and to walk.


Psalm of Worship: Isaiah 55:1

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”


Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Lenten Retreat Preview "Book of Lamentations"

Introduction Excerpt

The season of Lent has often been seen as a spiritual preparation for Christians to prepare our hearts for Easter’s sacrificial gift of grace. Sometimes we may choose a daily reminder, such as giving up a favorite treat or activity, to help acknowledge our commitment to focus on this spiritual journey. Or we might choose to set aside a special reflection time to go deeper into relationship through prayer and Scripture.

The forty days of Lent are considered a time of sorrow and grief that remembers Jesus was crucified to give us God’s gift of grace. Through Lent’s loss we begin to recognize the shadows and barriers we have set around God’s promises and reopen His call to pursue life under His influence.

Lament goes beyond our very heartsick trials to consider our even deepest sorrows, including those we may have hidden from ourselves.  A lament is considered a passionate expression of grief that we often instinctively neutralize because the pain is too hard to bear.

The “Book of Lamentations” expresses one of Israel’s worst seasons of history where death, decay, disease, and disillusion completely separated them from God’s presence individually and as a chosen nation. It is a brutal and unrelenting scripture. Yet before healing could be accepted, or God’s grace understood, the darkness needed to be brought into God’s piercing light. Like a surgeon’s skillful knife removing an unseen cancer before the spreading poison completely corrupts.

This reflective devotional journal is a mini-retreat to help become restored. By taking a few moments a day to pause as listeners we are invited to connect our spiritual hunger with the loving call God has given. We can recalibrate why Lent can bring a new beginnings into our lives even in the midst of extreme brokenness.


                                                     Blessings, Marcy

Friday, February 17, 2017

Works: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


            Works
           
            When truth becomes

            platitudes we
           
            wander away from caring

            existing without heart

            works deaden our soul

            actions degrade.

            
            Wake up to life

            “obey and repent” the call

            white robes still a hope

            conquer to be clothed

            with Spirit and grace.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Reflection Sardis: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     Have you experienced a time when fatigue became indifference?

2.     What signs of passivity towards a ‘work’ suggest a need to re-charge, or that it’s time to move away before detachment sets in?

3.     How can we help each other stay accountable to commitments with a caring heart instead of obligation alone?



Share: What ‘work’ feels too heavy for you right now?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sardis: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God.”

Heart—compassion—pure motives fuel the works the Lord sparks within our church communities and our own ministry outreach. Our souls sing even at the end of an exhausting undertaking that depletes all our resources.

Unless, somewhere along the way, the tiredness endures and our actions become rote. What then? Take stock our scripture says—take notice before apathy and passivity turn into uselessness. Maybe not on the surface apparent to the world, but as a weak link heart to heart. When our care begins to harden into resentment or contempt or objectivity.

“Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent.”

Remember that if God gives the work He will also supply His resources. He will cover each if us with His power and grace to bear the hardest tasks. If that is where He assigned.

Unfortunately too often we think we know what we’re doing on our own and don’t even realize we are working on our own steam until the signs of failure sneak into our attitudes and actions compromising our discernment.

We can only conquer in His strength.

Thank you Lord that you search us and know us. Keep us listening to Your counsel to discern Your guidance in all stages of works.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27: 14

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!”


Friday, February 10, 2017

Authority: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



            Authority


            Works alone cannot stand

            apart from heart motive

            based on whether truth or fraud.

            Lord alone sees through

            deceit, willful sin,

            measures by faith, purpose,

            set in His authority

            hold steady in endurance.

            Works then will hold.

            

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reflection: Thyatira: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     When have you personally seen or experienced authority in the church misused?

2.     What did it do to your faith? To others around you?

3.     In what ways can honest love, faith, service, and patient endurance conquer false motives and teachings?


Share: What do you need to “hold fast” to today?



Monday, February 6, 2017

Thyatira: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Revelation 2: 18-28

“And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts…. hold fast to what you have until I come.”

Fire consumes but also purifies.

In California there are several places where forest fires have ravaged Redwood groves and yet still many of these giant trees survived, now bearing their scorched markings blended with new growth.

Jesus brings His fire into our hearts to reveal false teachings. Too often taught as a hidden agenda by those we assume have authority.

His fire also helps us to clarify our own motives for works. Does the desire to work come from true compassion, or to fulfill an obligation, or to look good to others? Sometimes real purpose gets swallowed up in reputation and competition for attention—both personally and publicly.

It takes courage for any worship community to seek clarity and change steps if necessary. It takes commitment to stand against lies that can infest and destroy truth. It requires a battle to conquer when evil is unmasked.

“Hold fast” Jesus says. He is coming—He will bring His authority into the circumstances. If we are willing to ask—to listen—to follow—to obey.

Lord, please keep all Your churches true to the works You choose for each to do. Give each Your words to purify our motives.


Psalm of Worship: Psalm 27:13

“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”


Friday, February 3, 2017

Sword: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Sword           


            Words a sword or a

            balm of healing

            spoken from truth

            piercing through lies

            revealing truth

            faith, grace.

            A new beginning


            redeemed.
 
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