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Monday, October 14, 2019

Listened: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11: 32, “And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah of David and Samuel and the prophets—.”

Listened

All of these men acted on faith without having any knowledge of the outcome. They trusted in God’s word alone regardless of the immediate circumstances. Hearing God’s voice was sufficient.

One of Samuel’s most difficult experiences is related in the story of Israel’s demands as told in 1 Samuel 8:18-22. The people insisted that Samuel appoint a king to rule over them. Samuel recognized the error of their request and refused to cooperate. He did not bow to their demands.

However he did take all their words he had heard and “he repeated them in the ears of the Lord.” Then when the Lord said to go ahead and fulfill their request Samuel obeyed God. He was wholly committed to serve God’s word with heart and mind and soul.

Is it possible the people thought they had forced Samuel’s hand and influenced his decision. Which would then increase the falsehood that they were right to demand control. As their priest, Samuel’s obedience humanly cost him politically, socially and spiritually. Yet he did not question God’s word or authority. And his obedience carried into eternity.

How often do we also buy into false choices and decisions because we forget to bring the words we hear into the Lord’s presence for affirmation? Or bow to the majority because it is easier?  Or cannot hear the Lord’s voice because we are so full of our own agenda?

Lord, please enable a faith in us to keep us listening to Your words, Your voice and Your path.

Your Thoughts,



Friday, October 11, 2019

Pardon: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Pardon


She heard the truth

heart melted

knew no other course

no guarantee of pardon

onslaught due. Or

risk death as traitor

heart cried

He alone is God.

Stepped out in faith

entered priestly line.

Psalm 104:32, “He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke.”


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Reflection: Courage: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Reflection Questions


1. We may not be in a position of literal death as Rahab was but what are some ‘deaths’ we might face today standing for God’s truth?

2. Does the responsibility of a family, or employees, or co-workers add more pressure to the choice, or more responsibility to choose the more difficult way?

3. What about the seemingly small choices. How painful can they become when repeated over and over?

4. Jesus also advised His followers not to throw pearls before swine. How can we tell when being silent is the better decision?

Share: Have you been in a position where standing by God’s truth put you in a precarious situation?




Monday, October 7, 2019

Courage: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:31, “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.”

Courage

“We have heard how the Lord…” she told the spies that hid in her home.  And she was not the only one who believed. “Our hearts melted,” she continued, and “our courage fled,” because they all recognized God’s sovereign power.

Yet she alone is named as choosing to act on her belief and saved her entire family.

Not knowing if she would be killed as a traitor first. Not knowing if the spies would pass on her message. Not knowing if their leaders would honor their promise. Or if her own family would despise her choice for them.

Yet her heart yearned to obey God’s truth.

His words called to a deep hunger in her heart. She wanted to live by soul truth regardless of the consequences. She knew she would be considered exempt from Israel’s promises.

Yet she stepped out of prescribed boundaries to try.

With fear shaking her nation she made a commitment to honor “the Lord your God” and her own family by doing everything possible to save them too. “However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers..  .”

Yet even later her name stands in Jesus’ genealogy as the mother of Boaz.

Lord, please give us the courage to act on Your truth when we recognize it and not let fear keep us from being in Your kingdom family. Help us to trust beyond immediate risk and yearn for Your truth with our actions.


Your thoughts,

Friday, October 4, 2019

Shout: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Shout


Armed warriors

clutching courage

real or imagined

prepared to die

in battle

storming Jericho’s walls.


Commanded instead to

walk seven days

then SHOUT.


When did words alone

bring victory? Hearts

murmured—yet to

Yahweh stayed obedient,

confusion turned to awe.

Psalm 104: 31, “Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works.”



Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Reflection: Inexplicable: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1.     What is your approach to insurmountable odds? Give up? Push harder? Come at it sideways?

2.     How often do you attack a problem your way first and then ask for God’s help or do you go to Him first?

3.     How difficult or easy is it for you to cease striving when the cost is high?

Share: Has the Lord ever asked you to do something inexplicable? How did you respond?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Inexplicable: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


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Hebrews 11: 30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.”

Inexplicable

Have you ever wondered what kind of conversations went on in the ranks over those seven days? Did hope or doubt or confusion grow with each passing night?

Confidence or cowardice. Ribald jokes or nervous twitters.

Did the warriors groan as their adrenaline rush decreased with inactivity while the families eased a sigh of relief at another day of no blood shed—yet.

Yet whatever the individual or group concerns over lack of seeming practical campaign strategy, they did not whine or moan as their ancestor had at the Red Sea. In spite of confusion at these new tactical orders, they obeyed. And walked daily in faith—not seeing—not even being able to imagine what exactly it was they were doing.

We expect instant answers to immediate problems today. With all the information available at our fingertips we assume quick replies. And if they don’t come we then assume we are in control, or it’s up to us to find a solution. Or chafe at the thought of waiting—with no concrete or definable plan of attack. And miss out on astonishment.

Lord, please help us not to resist Your ways when they seem inconceivable. Instead enable us to see through Your perspective and Your possibilities. Help us be willing to relinquish our solutions towards conflict with solutions beyond our ability to achieve. And trust Your word alone.

Your thoughts,



Friday, September 27, 2019

Drowned: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry




Drowned


Did they even hesitate a

moment to wonder at the

miracle before them—a dry

path dividing a sea.


Or simply take for granted

that if such as Israel

could cross, then so should they.


Arrogance of strength,

history, power, their

compass.


Astonished instead when

sea wall collapsed

denying success of

formula certainty.

Psalm 104:30, “Thou dost send forth Thy Spirit, they are created; And Thou dost renew the face of the ground.”




Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Reflection: Miracle: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions

1. What ‘Red Sea’ experience have you been astonished by in your life—either positively or negatively?

2. Were you confidant going into the situation by God’s word or based on your own competence?

3. How did that experience change your life choices or how did it not?

Share: How did your faith deepen as a result?



Monday, September 23, 2019

Miracle: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:29, “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.”

Miracle

Did either the Israelites or the Egyptians pause to consider the miracle before them?

The story in Exodus 14 notes that just before the sea walls opened Israel stood on the riverbanks in complaint and rebellion. Then only after they safely crossed and saw the soldiers drown “the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.” They stepped into the path unbelieving but hopeful? And when the Egyptians saw them, “they took up the pursuit, and …. went in after them into the midst of the sea.” No hesitation?

From a distance we read as if watching an onscreen version of special effects and can imagine the mountainous walls of water, the sound, the fear, and we are riveted without being present. How then could the actual participants not be staggered by the gift of God’s power before them? And yet, they had all just experienced plagues beyond imagination. Did miracles now seem ordinary?

How can our fear of the unknown, or the hubris of entitlement, rob us of astonishment and wonder when the unexpected appears right in front of us. When we see answers to our prayers and then try to explain them away. Or minimize the Lord’s influence or later actually contradict it.

Faith requires belief in the unseen and yet too often we also wait for the final proof or good solution before we will believe. Or perhaps just assume we have the right to something when the answer is no. Maybe we are too busy leaning on our own understanding instead of a willingness to listen and follow Spirit nudges to trust.

Nevertheless Jesus continues to make intercession for us. He continues to save—even when we can’t see straight—for the sake of His name—love—God with us.

Your thoughts,

Friday, September 20, 2019

Plagues: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Plagues

Israel obeyed out of fear

from plagues numbered

now at crisis and a

desperate need for

leadership, so listened

carefully, acted explicitly

to Moses’ ritual, kept

even the surprise of blood

marked door without question.

Moses obeyed out of faith.

Psalm 104:29, “Thou dost hide Thy face, they are dismayed; Thou dost take away their spirit, they expire, And return to their dust.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Reflection: Crisis: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. When struck by a crisis situation do you immediately react by instinct with a fight or flee reaction, or do you look for direction from others and/or God?

2. In what ways has your response to a crisis brought hope into the situation or created more conflict?

3. If you followed a leader through your experience, what qualities made you trust them without question? Were they genuine?

4. How has the Lord carried you through confusing or unfathomable actions to safety?

Share: What key lessons have you incorporated into your life that you will rely on when another crisis occurs?


Monday, September 16, 2019

Crisis: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:28, “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.”

Crisis

Moses trusted God. He had heard His voice and seen the unbelievable. Moses saw God work through tangible things—a burning bush, a shepherd’s staff, the river Nile. Even when Pharaoh’s sorcerers mimicked him, Moses could identify God’s power.
Now, in the face of the plagues, he was called to enact a ritual with no understanding of why or what or how.

Still he obeyed—knowing the one who spoke the words—even when they didn’t make any sense. Knowing only the Lord had the power to free them forever.

Neither Moses nor Israel knew this Passover would also become a sustaining ritual for their people. An ongoing picture book of hope and grace and redemption and restoration. A ritual so complex that theologians have wrestled with its meaning for centuries, and yet, still one that a young child could grasp its truth.

How often do we face a crisis, seek help through prayer, and receive an answer that seems to make no sense? Then think we misunderstood and find a different solution. Instead of embracing the unfathomable we accept only the measurable and concrete. And lose the opportunity to experience a rescue with story power. A story of meeting God that will last us our whole lives. A story that will sustain our faith throughout all the crises yet to come.

Lord, please give us eyes to see Your refuge and courage to trust in You alone.

Your thoughts,


Friday, September 13, 2019

Invisible: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry




Invisible


Set forth in

calm confusion

surrounded by fears

ceaseless challenge

swirling.


Resisted angry buzz

focused solely inward

listened intently to

obey invisible call

Moses followed.

Psalm 104:28, “Thou dost give to them, they gather it up; Thou dost open Thy hand, they are satisfied with good.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Reflection: Nudges: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. What gives you a sense of security? Of refuge?

2. In whom or in what do you find it difficult to trust? Why?

3. Has fear of circumstances paralyzed you in the past? What changed?

4. What major step of faith strengthened you with a difficult decision? How will it impact your next challenge?

Share: How do you recognize nudges from the Lord?


Monday, September 9, 2019

Nudges: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:27, “By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible.”

Nudges

There are times in our lives when either opportunity or catastrophe invades our lives along with the challenge to change. And fear can paralyze our response. Unless.

Richard Foster in his book Prayer notes, “As we begin to follow these nudgings of the Spirit, we are changed from the inside out.” From the time Moses began to examine his choices and decisions under God, he took stronger and stronger steps of faith. From his first encounter where he genuinely tried to explain to God why he wasn’t equipped for this role of leadership until the time came to put God’s plan into effect, he became not only the leader God called him to be, but also a leader no longer afraid of Pharaoh.

 Foster also says that in response to God’s overture of love that we can respond by a covenant of holy obedience. “Without reservation we vow to follow the Father’s faintest whisper.” What was ahead of Moses now became more important than what was behind.

Lord, please give us the strength to move into each new day and persevere under Your power and guidance.  Please remove any fears that chain us from fully following You or hearing Your words speaking into our hearts. Help us to truly see.

Your Thoughts,


Friday, September 6, 2019

Wealth:By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Wealth


Wealth receives a respected

nod. Abundance a murmured

awe. Struck by opulence

beyond ability deserves

distinguished note in history,

whether private or public.


A greater wealth though often

resented or ignored.  Cannot be replicated

or bequeathed. Stands one to one.


Almost impossible to comprehend

until own heart discerns by

choosing servant road

weather personal cost,

jeers, contempt, and

receives lasting treasure.


Psalm 104:27, “They all wait for Thee, To give them their food in due season.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Reflection: Treasure:By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. What has been the most difficult abuse you have ever suffered?

2. How did it affect and effect your values and choices?

3. Did you become a more compassionate person or a more isolated person?


Share: What resulting attitude from that abuse do you regret holding onto? Why?



Monday, September 2, 2019

Treasure:By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:26, “He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward.”

Treasure

Conflict, humiliation, chastisement, and arguments are all things we do not often actively seek out. Nor participate in willingly. Sometimes we even hide to avoid the possibility, both literally and emotionally.

It’s not only the discomfort of a shattered peace, but also lashes of emotional pain against our heart that can cause deep wounds of injustice and memories of rejection. It begins young with pre-schoolers and kindergartens shouting out words to each other as labels to show their anger. The words may be as ordinary as calling someone a sandwich, but whether the tone is intended to be mean or meant to be silly the words bring on tears. As we get older the slurs become sharper, whether racial, or national, financial, or religious.

Labels have power. Jew, Gentile, Slave, Free, Man, Woman, Rich, Poor.

The world restricts and Christ sets free. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3:28-29.

Moses chose heart treasure over world treasure. Eternal rewards over temporary pleasures. Personal abuse over false security.

Lord, please give us the strength to measure our days by Your standards.

Your thoughts,

Friday, August 30, 2019

Sand: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Sand

Allure of wealth
wakens discontent
simmers underneath
blessings, joins
desire for power
envies glitter.

Allowed heart
access then
works distortion
speeds accumulation
jettisons fragile gifts
for empty fa├žade.

Wreck upon sandbar
as grains stream through
fingers remembering
previous course
before fleeting pleasure
ensnared.

With longing
home-sick eyes
watch horizon
catch glimpse
of  hope that endures
begin again.

Psalm 104:26, “There the ships move along, And Leviathan, which Thou hast formed to sport in it.”

 
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