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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,


Friday, April 5, 2019

Gift: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


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Gift


Much conjecture debate
pontification and sermons
continue throughout
eras due to concrete
missing details.

Who, what, why journalism
sets scope on earth’s
first family. Fresh from
the garden, first generation
embroiled in fruit’s effect.

One righteous—accepted—died.
One gift received approved,
one faith endures as witness
his voice still speaks
through his actions of
one confirmed substantiated fact.

Psalm 104:5, “He established the earth upon its foundations, So that it will not totter forever and ever.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Reflection Questions: An Offering: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. During what seasons of our lives do we sometimes find it difficult to give without hesitation?

2. When do we find giving something that pours out of us?

3. How does this connect to our everyday work?


Share: Have you ever given a non-public gift? How free did you heart feel?




Monday, April 1, 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.”

An Offering: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


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Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks.”

An Offering

Why do we tend to compare ourselves to others whether personally or professionally? We may manage to separate out some of our activities from ‘the world’ but still make judgments, either against ourselves if we feel we don’t measure up, or towards others for doing less than us.

Often it starts as an honest question: how do you manage your time, your talents, and your finances as a faithful steward of God’s gifts, we say.  We too want to give back with open hands and gratitude. But sometimes it can feel like a competition, especially when we see a life poured out in service and all we seem to manage is a smidgen.

Whether we admit it openly or not there’s a little sympathy for Cain, a little of ‘well my brother also was dad’s favorite’ sibling attitude, running through our thoughts. Or, what exactly did he do wrong so I don’t ever do that! We really just want approval. But from whom?

Offerings—given with a whole heart by Abel. Given in outward obedience by Cain. Not a side-by-side contest or test level evaluation. Instead a private one-to-one with the Lord. Jesus pronounced the widow’s mite as honorable and the rich man’s offering as insufficient because it came out of his plenty. It did not touch him personally. Both Abel and the widow acted in faith. Too often we act in surface obedience, like Cain.

“Please take from me my life when I don’t have the strength to give it away to You, Jesus,” is from a worship song by the group Third Day. Maybe Cain didn’t realize or trust that even when his soul was cold all he needed to do was ask God for help.

Lord, please keep us from a tightfisted heart that influences everything in our life—attitude—time—gifts—family—friends—strangers—work and worship. Please show us what faithfulness looks like in action for each of us, so that we can support and encourage one another to live out Your words in trust.


Your thoughts,




 
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