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Monday, May 20, 2019

A Promise: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:11, “By faith he received a power of procreation even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised.”

A promise

How often have we automatically dismissed ourselves, or others, due to age or physical limitations? We surely do have common sense reasons and need to seriously take in these factors. And yet, don’t we sometimes use those limitations as a reason to refuse, just to refuse?

When we look only at the surface, we deny the Spirit’s power.

We are all too frail for ministry—in our own strength.

When we give our weaknesses as an offering, our hearts are open to receive God’s purposes—His way—in His time—and as His servant.

Whose boundaries do we keep—our own—the world’s—or the Lord’s?

Faith grasps stories: Caleb as strong at eighty five as at forty, Samuel just past toddler, Jeremiah and John appointed while in the womb, Tamar and Rahab and Bathsheba in Jesus’ genealogy, Simeon and Anna waiting to see salvation; all not often as well known, but day by day faithful in the field the Father gave them.

Only You, Lord, can produce new life in us. Only accomplishments that come from Your life are of lasting value. Only by abiding in You can keep us faithful to Your promises.

Keep us looking Lord, to what You can accomplish instead of what we cannot. Help us stay committed to the task You choose with a trusting heart.

Your thoughts,

Friday, May 17, 2019

The City: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



The City

Fairy tales contain
castles in the sky
beauty so magnificent
hearts become seized
with longing and quest
to belong.  A dream
that continues when
pages are closed. Yet
reality builds today a
city beyond comprehension,
kingdom of forgiveness.
Begin journey.

Psalm 104:11, ““They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst.”



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Reflection Questions: Foundation: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions

1. What questions do we need to ask ourselves to determine what we are building towards?

2. What wrong materials or cracks in the foundation need to be replaced/restored/repaired?

3. Do we look to the work with eagerness or resignation? Why?

Share: What do you look forward towards this next year?



Monday, May 13, 2019

Foundation: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:10, “For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Foundation

A fresh calendar, a new slate is often how we anticipate a new year or month, week or sometimes even a free day, and yet there also lingers the undone from yesterday and conflicting emotions.

Are we running ahead with anticipation or running away?  Standing on tiptoe to seek God’s vision, or burying our heads under staggering concerns.

Abraham dwelt in a tent and dreamed of God’s city. Some might think it only as a myth, a fairy tale, or an exaggerated sense of imagination, yet he knew the architect personally and already had been the recipient of God’s grace. So the disconnect between daily life on desert plains, sandstorms, and unfamiliar routes, and his long-term destination were not incompatible, not an emotional escape.

Every day he stood on that farseeing hope for guidance, choices and purpose. Was it easier then to see his horizon without the time clock frenzy that interrupts our ability to pause and dream and wonder with awe?

Lord, please set each of us firmly on the path You choose for us to journey and give us hearts to live into Your vision. No matter how difficult a day may become, keep our faith fixed on Your foundations as we build our lives with Your words.

Your thoughts,



Friday, May 10, 2019

Nomad: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Nomad

Was it hard to awake
every morning to an
unfamiliar atmosphere
whether wind or bird or scent?

Groggily leave life-long
territory, childhood memories,
well-worn paths walked
even in sleep.

Focus now on present terrain
geographic manual
newly minted.
Wonder at nomad lifestyle.

Psalm 104:10, “He sends for the springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains;”



Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Reflection Questions: Daily: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. We all need some degree of structure in our lives in order to accomplish anything but we also each have a comfort zone on that scale. Where is yours?

2. How do you cope when pushed out of it? Do you see it as a word from the Lord or as an intrusion? Or both?

3. Do you see all of your life as under God’s authority to command or only certain parts?

4. Read John 12: 49-50.


Share: Which is harder for you to experience each morning, a day of routine or a day of interruptions? Literally or spiritually?


Monday, May 6, 2019

Daily: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


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Hebrews 11:9, “By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.”

Daily

Nomads who didn’t follow mercantile routes or grazing lands, weather patterns or time-set agendas, but waited for a word—the word—from God alone when to stay and when to go.

Were they anxious for the signal to move when as outsiders they were regarded with such distrust they would post a sentry each night? Or so settled in comfort and plenty they dreaded the call to go. Perhaps even pleaded a little—we still have some tent repairs, a child is teething, the lambs and calves are too wobbly to travel a distance.

Or, a house divided. Some up early to eagerly explore the new geography and meet the neighbors. Others huddled near familiar daily routines grasping at permanence in fluctuating days.

All waiting—all trusting in a word spoken—looking to be shaped by kairos time instead of daily uncertainty. Learning to live by spiritual roots instead of geographic. Knowing that the when and the where and the why and for how long belonged to the Lord.

Lord, please guide us into a new way of living each day. Ground us into Your word and Your Spirit so that our foundation is Your will, Your Purpose, and in Your timing. Help us to be willing to change our agendas at the sound of Your voice.


Your thoughts,



Friday, May 3, 2019

Leave: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Leave


Leave behind all that

is familiar. Go to a new

land. Brings both sorrow

and anticipation. Grief

and adventure. Most difficult

letting go well-worn habits,

comfort routines. Taking one

last look before new inheritance.

Now go.

Psalm 104: 9, “Thou didst set a boundary that they may not pass over; That they may not return to cover the earth.”

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Reflection Questions: Obey: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. Regardless of whether you love to move from place to place or resist ever leaving, what does your heart ache for the most when a change is required? What does it anticipate the most?

2. What ‘move’ do you sense God is nudging you to consider in your life right now: emotionally or physically or spiritually?

3. Is it drawing you closer to the Lord in trust or putting up a wedge in your relationship? Why?


Share: How has God blessed a step of faith for you this week?




Monday, April 29, 2019

Obey: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.”

Obey

I once lived in a city where the statistics said that 50% of the population left after two years. Daily driving around parked moving vans was an ongoing given. If a person stayed four years, then he is considered a real resident. I came for a year and still felt like a visitor many years later, long past the resident definition. There were many days that I still didn’t have a clue where I was going—literally. I did become somewhat of an expert on wrong turns though, and what streets to avoid.

New journeys often start with excitement and anticipation, just like beginning faith steps. But then the map is backwards, a road doesn’t exist, the cart’s wheels fall off and suddenly it’s all overwhelming. That faith walk is as uncertain as the changing weather patterns. Instead of answering a nudge to become kinder, we find ourselves crabbier than ever. We start looking back to what was instead of ahead to new possibilities.

Spiritually and emotionally some days are a challenge to face, either because we have no idea what to expect, or we know exactly what the day will bring and do not want to participate at all. Like a stubborn toddler the word ‘no’ rushes up within us, even if we keep outwardly silent.

At least that’s what we often contemplate when we forget whose hand is holding onto us, and who knows every step on the route He has prepared, no matter how many hours, months, or years the process will take. The final destination is His chosen place. What we do need to do is walk a little closer. By faith.

Lord, we pray to obey with faith and go forward as you lead that today we may live in Your inheritance, in accord with Your purposes, and trust whatever steps You choose for us to take.

Your thoughts,

Friday, April 26, 2019

Warnings: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Warnings


Warnings rumbled

through words spoken

in language inaccessible.


Illustrations not bound

to known reality. In a

world devoid of rain

a flood would come.


Build an ark. One man

listened. Obeyed. Followed an

imaginative process through

new images. Ancient crackpot

castigated and scorned for

fancy visions. Received inheritance

as a man of righteousness.

Psalm 104: 8, “The mountains rose; the valleys sank down To the place which thou didst establish for them.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Reflection Questions: Ark: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. Do you trust God to carry you through any crisis that comes?

2. Under what situations do you find fear taking hold in your life?

3. How do you respond to nudges or impressions of change coming—with anticipation or anxiety? What makes the difference?

Share: What scripture ‘ark’ has God given you when you need to ride out personal storms?



Monday, April 22, 2019

Ark: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:7, “By faith, Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.”

Ark

Often we have a tendency not to put imagination and faith in the same context. Yet Noah’s story has the makings of an epic fantasy or science fiction journey. In a time when rain was not a reality, a flood an unknown concept and perhaps even a boat unheard of, Noah was asked to stake everything on God’s request to build an ark. Did he struggle to find a way to ask God for a translation?  A reality check?

With our technology on super speed this era, it has not been considered odd to ask what is an ipad or an SEO or a webinar. Yet all these new means of communication have been built from previous science now constantly evolving and refining. Not only did Noah have no concepts to draw from, he also had the additional tension of worldwide catastrophe. Perhaps another indefinable concept.

Yet he trusted God’s word without question and set to follow His pattern in trust.

Too often we have pushed aside warnings or opportunities as impossible or too unlikely to be taken seriously. Either we outright ignore or water down the implications, instead of asking God for confirmation—first, and then wisdom next. And wonder why our days, our life, dissolves into chaos.

And we have centuries of scripture evidence to stand on—thousands of faith stories as reminders of God’s saving refuge in times of struggle and in times of new beginnings.

Lord, help us to distinguish Your voice above the jeers and naysayers. Give us courage to follow all Your directions and Your truth that we stay connected to You. That we may walk in obedience, safe in Your will. Help us to remember that nothing is impossible with You.


Your thoughts,


Friday, April 19, 2019

Believe: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Believe


Even in belief

I disbelieve and

exile myself from

Your love

expecting nothing.

Knowing my heart I

exempt myself  from

Your forgiveness,

exist in a coldness

I alone shape with

emptiness.

Yet You stay closer still.

Psalm 104: 7, “At Thy rebuke they fled; At the sound of Thy thunder they hurried away.”



Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Reflection Questions: Exist: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. In the darkness moment you’ve experienced did you turn away from God or turn to Him?

2. How did that affect your healing?

3. How did it affect your next hurdle?

4. Why do you think we doubt the Lord so much in the face of His faithfulness?


Share: When another dark moment comes into your life, how will you hold onto God?


Monday, April 15, 2019

Exist: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:6, “….without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Exist

For those who have met You Lord, or even had a glimpse of You, we doubt one would ever really deny Your existence. In our darkest moments that idea has never once taken root and yet there are questions that bring so many doubts, so many ‘but what if’ possibilities to block us from truly recognizing Your ability or Your willingness to act.

What if we are not welcome or not worthy? What if You exclude us because of our sin, or our selfishness? What if You see through our shields of hypocrisy? What if You can’t really help?

A desperate father brought to Jesus the plight of his son, his history since early childhood, the inability of healers to help him, the inability of the disciples to cure him and begged Jesus as his last hope, if you can—please help. And then his heart wrenching honest cry—“I do believe, help my unbelief.”

Often our faith staggers. We desire to walk in confidence and boldness. To bless and to be blessed according to God’s plans. But we focus on our own inadequacies instead of His power and grace. And create impossibilities before we even hear God’s reply.

Help us, Lord, to come seeking Your will in faith, acknowledging the excuses we try to hide behind. Because You answer in spite of our feeble hope and in the presence of our failures that mock us. Please strengthen our faith into trust that really changes our lives as we daily walk in expectation.   

Your thoughts,



Friday, April 12, 2019

Walked: By Faith



Walked


Methuselah is known
worldwide—his longevity
the prize record held.

Not connected often
with famous grandson Noah
another universal story,

great feats—family
heritage. Does anyone
remember that his father
Enoch, “walked with God.”

Not much else said
besides genealogy and reputation
“and then he was no more
because God took him.”

A heritage not repeated
in biblical annals,
but to walk with God
how can we ignore?


Psalm 104:6, “Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment;The waters were standing above the mountains.”





Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Reflection Questions: Walk: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. Do you think of yourself as being able to walk with God as Enoch did? Why or why not?

2. Whom do you trust humanly more than any other person? Why?

3. Is there someone that you give those same gifts of relationship to when you walk with them?

4. Are these gifts that can only be shared spontaneously or gifts that can be nurtured?


Share: What is most special to you when you can walk with a close friend or loved one?



Monday, April 8, 2019

Walk: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’”

Walk

Every time I’ve come to this verse, and the one it refers to in Genesis 5:24: “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him,” I found myself silent and a little stunned at the words.

What would it be like to walk with God? Did he get to walk in person like Adam and Eve in the garden? Did they walk in silence like long time friends often do? Or were they so excited to be able to share their day and feelings that the conversation skipped from subject to subject and time passed into a blur?

And this happened long before the law, long before Jesus’ sacrifice to remove the barrier of sin that keeps us from fellowship. Scripture says so little about Enoch, but we do know he was a man and therefore not perfect—not righteous—not holy. Only Jesus can make that claim. And still, Enoch walked with God.

Richard Foster reminds us that the gift of Simple prayer is the freedom to pour our heart out before Him. “We do not try to conceal our conflicting and contradictory motives from God—or from ourselves.” We are fortunate when we find trustworthy friends with whom we can share with complete honesty and know they will listen all the way to the bottom of our garbage and stay with us until we recognize it as well.

Yet this miracle of fellowship to walk with God is His gift to each of us. Enoch recognized it and accepted it. Lord, help us to receive this wondrous spiritual heritage. Deepen our faith so that we willingly remove any barriers that keep us from walking with you.

Your thoughts,


 
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