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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reflection: Deceit: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     Have you ever been deceived in a way that brought about brokenness in your faith walk?

2.     How did you react to others around you? To God?

3.     Have you been in a position where you have tried to help someone see they are being deceived?

4.     Were you able to share truth without condemnation? Why or why not?


Share: What helps you to discern truth?


Monday, May 29, 2017

Deceit: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: 2 Timothy 4: 3-4

“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.”

We are not really surprised by this verse when we consider today’s culture. Sadly.

Publicly between advertisements, politics, and social media it is almost impossible to hear truth spoken. Partial truths, perhaps, innuendo certainly, but honest truth is too rare. And when it is shared opponents have a way of vilifying and shredding the integrity behind it.

Historically our churches at large too often fall into the power lure as well and preach only partial scripture, or consider only limited ways in which the precept should be applied. And through the centuries the legalism and control have wounded countless believers.

The Jewish leadership took God’s Ten Commandments and by Jesus’ time had added over 600 addendums to it, putting a terrible weight on the people struggling to uphold the law. And the leadership was not pleased when Jesus kept poking holes in their religiosity.

In Acts 17:11, Paul encouraged the Bereans in their integrity because when they heard the gospel they went directly to the scriptures to certify its truth. In its whole passage. Not just filtered excerpts. And here in Timothy the warning continues.

Not only do we have scripture but the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us. We have a responsibility to recognize deceit in all the areas of our lives so that we can stand firm in truth that heals and restores, unifies and uplifts, embraces and shares together. Not to pursue or ignore self-centered doctrine that pretends to be truth.

Lord, please give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to follow Your words, Your way.


Psalm of Worship: 1 John 1:2


“This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Stand Firm: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Stand Firm


            Because

            He is present

            kingdom readied

            take seriously command.


            Proclaim

            message in all circumstances

            with patience

            knowing of judgment.


            Persistent

            with compassion

            convince, rebuke, encourage

            life eternal.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Reflection: Persist: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     How do you stand firm in truth in times of battle?

2.     What do you think can be at stake in our souls even in what might be considered minor skirmishes?

3.     What kind of setbacks have you had to struggle with?


Share: How did His message give you courage to stand firm?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Persist: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: 2 Timothy 4:1-2

“In the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable, convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”

There are many situations in our lives that we come to recognize as an end. Perhaps a relationship, or a job, or a goal, or a hope, or a question. Opportunities have dissolved. And, as if in a battle, weariness, discouragement, and doubt invade our hearts and souls. We often quit trying in all areas of our life and not just the one where we have been disappointed.

That is not an option, Timothy reminds us, where God’s message is to be spoken—shared—sustained—with or without words.

Solving a solution or seeing results is not the measure. Faithful persistence is. Especially in times of setbacks and failure. When we most need to trust in His truth and His word. Which never fails even when we cannot see, and may never see, the outcome.

His word that we all need in all circumstances because if we don’t stand firm we lose any hope of strength. The damage goes deeper than the surface and erodes compassion in our hearts. Building more walls. Burying truth instead of sharing it.

He stands for us. We only need to ask.

Lord, please give us Your strength to persist in all situations and stand firm in battles that try to separate us from Your grace and truth. May Your message hold us up together, with each other and with You.


Psalm of Worship: 1 John 1:1


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“We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with out eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

Message: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Message


            Sometimes so hard
            to speak
            when bound by chains
            of emptiness or neglect,
            fear and grief.

            Yet even there
            truth calls out
            to speak boldly
            after compassion and
            a way to restoration
            especially when
            understanding evades.

            Boldly speak
            message given,
            although a mystery,
            truth will deliver
            make known
            to each heart.
           
           

            

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reflection: Boldness: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     Do you have difficulty recognizing a message from the Lord? Why or why not?

2.     What filters do you use to identify whether the words are His truth or your personal agenda?

3.     Do you ever struggle to share it? How do you pass it on?

4.     Do you consider yourself an ambassador for the Lord? Why or why not?


Share: What message have you heard from the Lord recently?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Boldness: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Ephesians 6:19-20

“Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.”

As we know, one of the key tasks of any human ambassador is to give a message. We often think of the messages as peace-bearers and treaty agreements. But sometimes the messages are words of warning as well.  Sometimes given in silence, and sometimes in words. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for power.

One silent common thread in crime dramas is when henchmen are told to “deliver a message” and the recipient is badly beaten.  Man’s solution.

And an opposite message of love is given any time a parent embraces a sobbing child in silence. God’s offer.

Jesus does not sugarcoat His words to His disciples and to His listeners, both of whom often do not understand or take affront. Yet He speaks the truth in love regardless of the consequences to Him personally, or opinions of others. He speaks them in mercy: words and actions towards life and healing and restoration. As a gift of life.

“I must speak,” Paul says, already knowing well the physical consequences of prisons and whippings. We already know the possible verbal consequences of ridicule and condemnation. And yet, without messages of truth, we cannot share hope.

Lord, please forgive us our timidity, and give us words in Your Spirit to share Your messages boldly in silence and in speech.


Psalm of Worship: Isaiah 55:13

“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Purpose: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Purpose


            Pray in the Spirit

            accepting revision

            to wants and needs

            becoming attuned to a

            purpose beyond ourselves

            anticipate instead

            unlimited power

            to persevere.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reflection: Persevere: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1.     What do you need to be able to persevere regardless of circumstances?

2.     What cripples you from perseverance?

3.     Are you open to revision in your prayers?

4.     When might we not be ready for our wants and needs to be answered?


Share: What aspect of God’s character gives you the courage to keep praying?




Monday, May 8, 2017

Persevere: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Ephesians 6:18

“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”

When a new believer I heard a Bible teacher say that the Lord gives three answers to our prayers: yes, no, and not yet. I struggled then with the “not yet” since I didn’t understand why that would be a factor.

Many life circumstances later I do understand why the not yet is often appropriate and yet whenever that answer comes up I still struggle with it. My immediate desire is still for instant answers.

Even hearing a no immediately gives a closure. Not yet hangs in uncertainty. Requires ongoing trust on a path we can’t see or one that keeps shifting. There doesn’t seem to be any solid footing. Only more questions.

I resist suffering, waiting, heartache, worry, and confusion. Do you too? And so sometimes I have made a situation worse by attempting to “fix” it myself. To speed up the process or detour some deep learning curves. I’m too attached to our instant society to take the time to listen with an open heart.

To persevere. To listen for the Spirit’s perspective and purpose. Which is often far beyond anything I could imagine. I tend to give up too early. Do you? And yet, when we can trust and wait and pray in the Spirit with a willing heart, we can find solid ground to stand on. His power and His peace and His sustaining presence will carry us.

Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of prayer for ourselves and each other. Please keep us faithful to Your purpose. Thank you for the strength we can give each other in Your Spirit’s counsel and insight for one step at a time.


Psalm of Worship: Isaiah 55:12

“For you will go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst with song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”




Friday, May 5, 2017

Word: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


           Word


            Sword words

            wielded by Spirit

            bring two-edged

            perception

            removing sin’s cancer

            restoring life’s truth

            only under salvation’s

            helmet can we

            stand and face.
.

            With courage.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Reflection Helmet: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1.     When have seemingly ordinary words been used against you?

2.     When have you unintentionally used words against another person?

3.     How was the damage restored in either situation?



Share: How has the Spirit clarified words for you this week?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Helmet: Word Ambassadors: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Ephesians 6:17

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The familiar nursery rhyme “sticks and stones” often ends with, “but names will never hurt me,” or “harm me,” or “break me.” Yet we have all seen or experienced the power behind name-calling and know well the power of words.

Plus there is the plethora of meanings as any dictionary or thesaurus confirm.

Misuse, misdirection, and misunderstandings can create unbearable damage in relationships and purpose.

“What is truth?” Pilate said, as he confirmed he found no guilt in Jesus. And then knowing this truth he accepted the Jewish leaders request to crucify Him. The same words can mean different things to different people and circumstances. Over and over throughout history mankind has used Biblical truths as weapons twisting intent for personal gain.

Yet when the Spirit wields God’s words they become swords to dissolve sin, disease, and hatred. Instead words under the Spirit bring about cleansing and healing and courage. Under His perception and not under our limited manmade perspective.

Lord, by Your Spirit’s power dissolve false words or meanings from within and without us, and give us Your words of hope and truth and light that restores. Cover us with Your helmet to resist false intent and stay true to Your heart.


Psalm of Worship: Isaiah 55:11

“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose.”


 
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