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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Reflection: Furnace: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. Is faith your first response to critical decisions or the last?

2. Is faith your first response to everyday choices or do you consider it automatic?

3. How do you reply when someone challenges your trust in God?

4. Are you willing to accept a yes or no answer to prayer with equal commitment, especially when that answer might affect your loved ones?

Share: What fiery furnace has the Lord rescued you from?




Monday, October 28, 2019

Furnace: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:34, “quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign enemies to flight.”

Furnace

Sometimes it seems that we see our faith as our last hope. Something we cling to when all else appears helpless.  How passive and anemic.

Instead the Bible links faith to heroic feats of common ordinary men and women. The difference? They started from a faith stand—regardless of the consequences.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego held high official positions under Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Yet their whole heart belonged to God. When the king’s edict demanded worship of a false idol, they never even hesitated in their reply.

“If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” Daniel 3: 17-18

Their courage and commitment to the Lord grounded them before they ever had to make life and death decisions. Their faith and relationship were the foundations of all their choices—large or small—life or death. They accepted both yes and no answers to their prayers with gratitude and obedience.

Lord, please help us to step into the world each day with the same armor, knowing that You will be our strength when we are weak. Keep our hearts in Your care.

Your thoughts,

Friday, October 25, 2019

Follow: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Follow


Deborah listened and foretold

Balak obeyed and followed

gathered Israel’s warriors.


God’s answer to their prayers

victory came through

obedience, willing hearts

searching for relationship

a return  to holy reign.


One by one choosing, as Jael

drove the wooden peg, her

opportunity to serve call.

Psalm 104:34, “Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord.”



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Reflection: Conquered: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



Reflection Questions


1. What words do you need to hear to freely volunteer to go for the Lord?

2. Is there a severe situation in your life enslaving you or those you love with fear and helplessness?

3. Are you willing to follow when God gives you an opportunity to conquer by faith?

Share: What challenge has the Lord called you to?


Monday, October 21, 2019

Conquered: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Hebrews 11:33, “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions.”

Conquered

Deborah listened and followed the voice of the Lord. Barak followed Deborah’s plan, as long as she journeyed with him. Jael followed the opportunity in her hands. When it was all over, Deborah and Barak sang, “That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the Lord!” Judges 5:2

They conquered a kingdom that had kept Israel severely enslaved for twenty years.

Each responded according to the abilities and opportunities they were each given. “If you go, I will go!” Barak told Deborah. She reminded him he would not then receive the acclaim for the victory. Instead it would go to her—a woman and in that day’s culture Barak’s reputation would be diminished.

Yet he was completely unwilling to perform the task apart from her. Was he unwilling to move apart from God’s voice and he knew God had spoken through Deborah. Perhaps his reputation didn’t matter as much to him as living a faith that followed only God’s words in obedience. Once she agreed he flung himself wholeheartedly into the instructions. The obstacles became irrelevant. He kept his eyes on God, as did Deborah and Jael, and experienced God’s deliverance.

Lord, please keep us from false hesitation and give us courage to follow with commitment and integrity—wherever You lead.

Your thoughts,


Friday, October 18, 2019

Confrontation: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry




Confrontation  


Bombarded with complaints,

demands, Samuel stood

firm. Spoke truth

described consequences.


Voice drowned by 

desire of assimilation;

their surety that commonality

higher than a unique calling.


He did not agree, sought

instead God’s counsel

acquiesced to His command only.


Crowd now satisfied—ignorant

of their loss.

Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Reflection: Listened: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry



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Reflection Questions


1. What are some social “expectations” that can influence us from hearing truth?

2. When have you struggled to share a truth with someone and been rejected? How painful were the results for each of you?

3. Have you identified areas in your life where you can be persuaded too easily or alternately distrust intently?

4. How many of those situations have resulted from pride?

Share: How have you exchanged a false belief for truth? What helped you break down your barriers?


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?

 
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