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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,

 
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