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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Reflection: Restore: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. What impossible decision do you need to make?

2. Where in this turmoil does your belief/unbelief meter register?

3. Where does your obstacle lie—in your heart or in your will?

4. How has the Lord restored you in the face of great loss before?

5. Why, or why not, do you consider God able this time?


Share: How has God comforted your conflict?


Monday, July 15, 2019

Restore: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:19, “He considered the fact that God is able to raise someone from the dead—and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Restore

Time and time again, Jesus asked, or implied the need to believe in Him so that a healing could take place. At Nazareth, in His hometown, He “could do no miracle” and “He wondered at their unbelief.” Another desperate father heard Jesus’ words, but recognized his own doubts so he brought them in prayer as, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

Abraham believed. He had no idea how. No concept of what would happen in the next few moments or weeks or years, but he did know God’s faithfulness and so he trusted in his belief. Even to letting go of a promise he had clung to for his whole life. A promise God Himself had given. A promise that if taken would result in loss and anguish beyond all measure.

We learn, often reluctantly, to learn to let go of situations and attitudes that are harmful to us. And sometimes we are able to loosen our grip on what is good in our lives for something better. But after an entire lifetime of obedience—to be asked to give up the very blessing from God—perhaps one we uprooted our entire lives for?

In Jesus’ parable a single grain of wheat must be dropped into the earth and die in order to multiply. (John 12:20-26) In reference to this image, Herbert Lockyer comments, “Out of death comes life. A harvest comes from a grain. Jesus used this analogy of a natural law to illustrate what happens in the moral and spiritual worlds alike.”

Oh Lord, only You alone can restore life from loss. Sometimes the pain is so great that a shadow remains forever. Yet with You, all things are possible. Help us to live in resurrection reality.

Your thoughts,



Friday, July 12, 2019

Obeyed: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Obeyed

Who has the strength
to release a dream
held life-long.

Worked steadily towards
through grief, joy, expectations,
hope. Obedience daily.

Wondering why this change
to plans and promises
honored in faith.

Withheld nothing
to walk in worship on
hallowed ground.

Psalm 104: 19, “He made the moon for the seasons; The sun knows the place of its setting.”


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Reflection: Command: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. What is your reflex attitude towards any command?

2. Does it change according to the speaker? Why or why not?

3. Are there areas in your life where you need to become more obedient or less obedient to people authority?

4. When is heartfelt obedience easy for you, or is it ever?


Share: How do you determine when it is God leading you through human messengers?



Monday, July 8, 2019

Command: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:18, “of whom he had been told, ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.’”

Command

How willing are you to be obedient? Does it depend on who is asking? Will your attitude match your actions?

If a parent, we usually have no difficulties establishing our ‘authority’. And our children can tell if a command is open for discussion or not by our voice. Through their growing years they often test those boundaries to see when they achieve more responsibility. They know our tone so well that sometimes they recognize they may have pushed too far before we do. We have the power to send young children to bed early and withhold car keys from teen-agers.

Sometimes can our attitude towards others exercising their authority over us influences our attitude towards God, either in ensuing obedience or outright rebellion. Will we run away like the prodigal son and end up in mire, or stick close like the elder son and nurse a grudge for years?

Abraham faced the most heart-rending choice imaginable. Yet he made it based on his understanding of God’s character, and so entrusted to Him his most precious gift.

“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” John 4:34

Lord, please give us courage to follow and obey with complete trust, knowing that your promises and Your commands overflow with Your redeeming love.

Your thoughts,


Friday, July 5, 2019

Relinquish: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Relinquish


When the day calls

to test a heart

who will stand firm

for a promise still distant

willingly release

all that one values

with tears cascading

hold open hands.

Psalm 104:18, “The high mountains are for the wild goats; The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.”


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Reflection Questions: Test: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. What do you consider your greatest treasure in different areas of your life: personal, vocational, spiritual?

2. Has God ever asked you to relinquish any?

3. Why? And what was the result?

4. Are you willing to do it again? Why or why not?

5. Is there one area you find yourself holding back from?


Share: How do you seek God’s will for your loved ones?



Monday, July 1, 2019

Test: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:17, “By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son.”

Test

This passage brings up so many mixed memories that it is not a once for all decision to relinquish that which we hold as treasure, but may need to be repeated many times. We can so easily confuse a promise with an end result done our way and miss the blessing, or healing.

We might resist the desire to leave a highly stressful job situation, because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt God had called us there, and in our mind to leave would be breaking a commitment. Despite the fact that everyone praying for us may all agree that a change needs to be made as we face increasing despair every day. Then a wise person quietly mentions that although God had called him to a particular role, He had also guided him when it was time to leave for another location. We can cling for the wrong reasons. And when we finally open our hands to new possibilities, a whole new season opens up, still using the same skills yet in a fresher and deeper manner.

However if a child is born in distress, we have no hesitation handing his care over to an unknown pediatrician. We trust immediately that this complete stranger would do whatever necessary to bring relief to our newborn. Contrary to an anxiety-ridden personality, we have complete peace. Because God steps in and covers us in His care. If we are a newborn in faith we may not be ready to be tested, only protected.

Often we may need to double check just how tight-fisted we are with the people around us, or time, or resources. We resist change and like safety. One Resurrection Sunday, our pastor referred to the reality of  “Christ is Risen” as dangerous hope. It can take awhile to process that concept into our daily life. Could that be exactly why Abraham was able to meet God’s test of faith? He recognized the danger but trusted with a whole heart as well.

Lord, please forgive us when we hold too tightly to anyone, or to any dreams You have given us, with self-centered clenched fists instead of open hands of trust. Help us to recognize You and follow Your plans with dangerous hope.

Your thoughts,




Friday, June 28, 2019

Longing: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Longing


power and majesty

with love

prepare a home.

heart readied to receive

promise. Hungers

for city, faithful in journey

pursues longing.

Psalm 104:17, “Where the birds build their nests, And the stork, whose home is in the fir trees.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Reflection Questions: Dreams: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. Have you ever considered what God’s vision is for you?

2. Do you find it difficult to see yourself through His eyes for you? Why?

3. What are some ways in which believers settle for some much less than a full walk with the Lord? Which apply to you personally?


Share: What is a blessing the God has given you when you followed a desire that came from Him?


Monday, June 24, 2019

Dreams: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:16, “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.”

Dreams

There is a portion in the poem Dreams, by Langston Hughes, that says: For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly.

Through life we often learn to keep our dreams close to us to protect them from public ridicule. Sometimes we even have to keep them from well meaning family and friends. However when we keep them even from ourselves, we can begin to live with a meager perspective.

How can we understand the difference between humility and fear when God puts gifts and blessings into our lives and encourages us to use them, but we don’t? Instead, is it non-acceptance of His grace—which none of us deserve anyway.

Does shame sneak into our lives when we don’t lift our sight high enough to desire and believe and act with obedience to a love that turned the world’s definition of blessings upside down.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly,” says Jesus.

Lord, please keep Your heaven in our souls so that our heart’s desires match with Yours and we live in Your abundance instead of our limitations. Keep us longing to dream of Your city.

Your thoughts,

Friday, June 21, 2019

Choose Path: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Choose Path

Forward or backward
decisions clamor
for resolution
design choices.

Further to vision
described by hope,
faith in possibilities, or
depend on past.

Familiar territory
despite pain, brokenness,
forever a companion.
Desire beckons. Choose path.

Psalm 104:16, “The trees of the Lord drink their fill, The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,”


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Reflection Questions: Decision: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. What circumstances trigger a backwards look in your attitude?

2. Is the reason to not repeat mistakes, or a wish to return to old ways?

3. Does it affect yourself alone or does it include relationships around you?

4. When can a memory escape refresh you?


Share: How do you stop second-guessing from interfering with your direction?



Monday, June 17, 2019

Decision: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11: 15, “If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had the opportunity to return.”

Decision

Have you ever wrestled through a major life decision, taken the next step of faith, and known it has been the right choice? And then weeks or months, or sometimes even years, later begin to reflect on that decision and wonder if? Or should I turn back now?

And the answer is no, so you keep going forward. But the memories tug.

Memories are a joy and a blessing, unless we turn them into a longing to escape from today. Or become an obstacle when we re-live past pain and allow its emotional paralysis to infect us now.

And the past’s grip can keep us from new guidance and new opportunities.

We can let emotions alone rule our decisions. We can get stuck in the familiar because it somehow feels safe because it is knowable—controllable. Even the heartaches and disappointments can become a soft jail. 

And the strangers and exiles on this faith journey had no long-term blueprint.

Whatever the hold on their past once was, whether good or bad, they broke it to walk towards God’s definition of freedom. Not an easy walk—maybe even more challenging than they had ever done before.

And they walked with the Lord God, Jehovah. Emmanuel—God with us.

Your thoughts,


Friday, June 14, 2019

Search: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Search

always on the move
with mind and heart
hungry for more

searching for substance
a place to rest
secure, grow roots.

instead hummingbird
style flit and dip
with breakneck speed
afraid to stay and
see home.

Psalm 104:15, “And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Reflection Questions: A Hunger: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions

1. In what areas of your life is your heart restless right now?

2. In what areas are you at perfect peace?

3. What is the difference between the two reactions?

Share: What word from the Lord calms your anxieties?



Monday, June 10, 2019

A Hunger: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:14, “for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.”

A Hunger

Prophets and Pastors have often spoken of a deep hole within us that will remain ever empty until we recognize God’s love and presence.  And then sometimes when that chasm is filled the hunger to go deeper and deeper in relationship lingers.

When we receive a newborn in our families we experience pure delight and awe. It is amazing to see how each child snuggles into their family with his or her own version of recognition. He may take a unique cuddling position as he chooses each for dad and for grandma and if shifted when with that person into a possible different angle he immediately reacts with a tiny squawk. With mom any position is fine as long as he’s held by her.

This fragile child instinctively knows to whom he belongs and wholly trusts.

We may wonder why we so often seek You but don’t find You. Is it because You are infinite and since we don’t really comprehend, or can grasp infinity, we settle for substitutes? And don’t hear our internal squawk of dismay warning us that we are moving away from Your safe arms?

Lord, please create in each of us a heart hunger that knows and recognizes You so instinctively that we will turn away from emptiness and false imitations. Keep us in Your peace.

Your thoughts,


Friday, June 7, 2019

Strangers: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Strangers

To travel to a foreign land
is not always easy when
lack of adventure or
fear of change creates
tremors through our
clattering bones,
internal winds blowing
storm scent into veins.

Look up to catch a
glimpse—sheer beauty
above the broiling clouds;
a sigh, a longing
stretch out towards
promises,
take first step.

Psalm 104:14, “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Reflection Questions: Travelers: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. Do you desire roots or mobility in your living circumstances? Why?

2. What do you consider to be the advantages/disadvantages of each?

3. How does your choice influence your personal relationships?

4. What promise from the Lord do you cling to at all times?
     
Share: In what circumstance have you most felt to be a stranger? How did you handle the situation?


Monday, June 3, 2019

Travelers: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


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Hebrews 11:13, “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth.”

Travelers

To be a stranger for a brief day’s excursion, or a short trip, can be exciting and intriguing. It’s fun to be introduced to new tastes and smells and locale. It’s a short step out of familiar that offers a new perspective. We get to be a little anonymous. And if anything happens that jars us, we know we will be home in a few hours or a few days and it’s not a critical matter.

But to be a stranger in a long term everyday setting requires a whole different outlook. For some it is still an adventure to be embraced, and yet for others it has the potential to weary heart and soul into survival mode in order to simply endure.

Always risking miscommunication, or worse insult. Surface relationships because no one really trusts each other. The wearisome continually packing and unpacking goods and feelings, getting lost, feeling alone and isolated.  And sometimes all within your own family who holds a different viewpoint.

Yet when we cling only to stability of location or mind or heart we risk stagnation. Our comfort criterion turns into a cage. We protect ourselves from the unknown wilderness and miss out on the beauty in the distance.

When we hold onto Jesus’ hand we have both: the security of being completely known and the promises of the unknown before us. We travel lighter.

Lord, thank you for Your blessing of keeping us as strangers, so that we are always prepared to travel as You call. Even if it’s just across the street.


Your thoughts,


 
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