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Friday, December 6, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Despite continued failure

to hide deeds in darkness,

ignorance, to contain perhaps

a season under lies, only

to explore in light of day

exposed motive, deceit,

distorted vision; attempt

continues—fractured by

uncooperative victims

demanding a public witness.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     Jesus Himself chose silence a few times when faced with bullying. How can we know when it is right to be still or necessary to speak out?

2.     What criteria should be used in either private or public occurrences? Or is there a difference?

3.     Which is most difficult for you to deal with personally—veiled threats or outright confrontation? Why?

4.     Are you willing to defend others but not yourself if necessary?

Share: Under what circumstances have you overcome your own fears or anxiety to make sure others heard words of truth?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:35, “….refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.”

Many churchgoers have heard the story of Paul and Silas, arrested—beaten—chained—saved the jailor from suicide. Their faith and witness brought resurrection truth to his whole household. But there is even more to the story.

After the jailor cleaned their wounds and received baptism, Paul and Silas returned to their cells. When the word came down to release them the jailor rushed to give them the good news. Imagine his astonishment when Paul refused.

“..Paul replied, ‘They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.’” 

Paul and Silas knew full well that even greater penalties could be ahead of them, but they would not accept back alley bullying to go unnoticed, or hide in the dark. Paul put aside personal fear and pain to make clear his belief and trust in Messiah. He demanded to be heard so that the truth be spoken out loud. Shown visibly in action.

So many years have past but world history continues the use of fear, anxiety, meritocracy and intimidation to rule and silence honest conviction whenever possible.

Lord, give us courage to be silent when we need to be, and to be publically vocal when You so direct. Help us to be faithful witnesses of Your truth—Your words in all circumstances.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 51: 12-13

“Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, And sinners will be converted to Thee.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


It was not an old man

recognizing death’s call nearing

and choosing a hero’s end,

but a repulsion against

any time marred by

separation from Your word.

Repudiated pollution

chose truth.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     Have you ever been tempted or enticed to compromise truth for self-interest? How and why?

2.     What were the results? Did your response strengthen or weaken your faith witness?

3.     How did this instance help prepare you for the next attack?

4.     Have you ever considered the possibility that at some point you may be tortured for your beliefs?

Share: What word from the Lord has helped you to witness in difficult circumstances?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:35, “…. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection.”

When the prophet Jeremiah stood in the Lord’s house and shared the warning given that Israel would be punished for forsaking God’s word, the priest Pashhur struck him and placed him in the stocks for punishment. (Jeremiah 19 & 20)

Perhaps Pashhur hoped both to bully Jeremiah into silence and to discredit him as a false prophet. But Jeremiah continued to witness to God’s word. And continued to be beaten, discriminated against, thrown into prison, placed under restraint and had his written words repeatedly destroyed. For all of his estimated 90 years of life, he remained a faithful witness to God’s words.

In the time of the Maccabees, when rulers tried to force replace Jewish laws of worship with Greek rituals and polluted the temple in Jerusalem, another faithful scribe of advanced years, Eleazar, chose death over unlawful sacrifice. Those around him tried to convince him to fake it—pretend to eat the swine flesh, just to stay alive.  But he refused the pretense so as not to lead the young to think he had turned to a false religion in his old age. He chose to “leave to the young a noble example of how to die a good death willingly and nobly for the revered and holy laws.” He walked to the rack himself.

In our times we may not face physical torture, but we might be ridiculed, or discriminated against, or be ostracized within family or workplace. How will we know if our choices or words will bring witness to others or ‘pollute’ our spiritual lives by self-interest? Especially when what is a danger to one person’s faithfulness to the Lord is not to another. Sometimes we will need to speak out and other times remain silent.

Both Jeremiah and Eleazar faced a different attack on their faith witness, but both responded by the power of the Spirit’s guidance in their lives.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4: 12

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 116: 14-15

“I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Widow’s Son

She opened her door

to a man who claimed

to be a prophet.

Yet hospitality

demanded her

obedience to house

this stranger.

He who alone

cared enough  for her

heartbreak to

plead her son’s life

to the Lord.

Witness to the word

alive in each.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     Where in your life today are you facing a loss?

2.     Do you trust in God’s words to give you hope regardless of the outcome?

3.     What do you need to let go of in order for God’s truth to enter into the circumstances and bring restoration?

Share: In what situation has God breathed His breath into new life for you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:35, “Women received their dead by resurrection.”

Anyone who has sat a vigil in the hospital understands the widow’s grasp for hope when the prophet Elijah took her lifeless son up to his room. She had already witnessed the miracle of provision in the oil, but could this prophet who spoke God’s word really bring back breath?

Yet she chose to trust Elijah and released his body.

And Elijah entrusted the boy to prayer and God’s power, not yet knowing the reply.

Three times he called upon the Lord for life.

And the Lord heard the prophet’s voice.

Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.” 1 Kings 17:24 Her hope had become not only her reality, but gave witness to the surety of Elijah’s words—God’s truth.  She too became a witness into faith through her suffering.

Lord, Help us to learn to trust your unseen truth regardless of the impossibilities we can see. Show us how to become living witnesses of Your words.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 140:12-13

“I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
And justice for the poor.
Surely the righteous will give thanks to Thy name;
The upright will dwell in Thy presence.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Banished armies

Built garrisons

Brought tribute to Jerusalem

Bronze offerings, gold shields

Brought victory to David

By God’s hands.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     What enemies, within or without, do you need to see put to flight?

2.     What fears do you need banished or turned into a tribute?

3.     What garrisons have you set in place by God’s word to protect your faith?

Share: What recent victory has the Lord given you through His lovingkindness?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

2 Samuel 8:6, “Then David put garrisons among the Arameans of Damascus; and the Arameans became servants to David and brought tribute. The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.”

The Old Testament is filled with the stories of battle where God gave deliverance. 2 Samuel 8 relates several different sets of foreign enemies that David put to flight under God’s direction. Despite all his wrong choices and sins, David remained faithful to belong to God and his desire to be His servant.

David’s heart was dedicated to God above all else. He sought the Lord’s words—personal communion above all else. He could not bear to be apart from His will.

But he was also well trained in warfare and knew that retaliation was always on the horizon. So he built garrisons. He built in protection. He did not take times of peace for granted. He stayed vigilant and with each victory he turned the tribute to the Lord.

Sometimes we are so grateful for a victory over an enemy without, we don’t see the one diminishing our heart. Or we give thanks and forget to set up protective garrisons of prayer and tribute and become complacent in sustaining a heart-to-heart relationship that seeks only God’s guidance. We doubt our ability to receive His gifts of refuge and training and let false words or false ways become our plans.

Lord, please give us Your eyes of faith to put to flight, to banish, any desires or enticements that can corrupt Your will in our lives.  

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 144:1-2

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, Who trains my hands for war,
And my fingers for battle;
My lovingkindness and my fortress, My stronghold and my deliverer;
My shield and He in whom I take refuge; Who subdues my people under me.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Three hundred men

divided into thirds

given trumpets

for one hand

empty jars with torches

for the other.

These their swords,

yet they stood in place

waited on command

obeyed in unison

won the day’s battle.

Walls that could not

be broken shattered

under God’s word.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     How difficult is it for you to simply stand in place when there is danger or oppression approaching?

2.     What helps you discern whether a situation requires more or less resources?

3.     What battleground are you standing on right now? In whose strength are you standing?

Share: What unlikely weapon has God given you to use in a time of battle?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Judges 7:21, “Every man stood in his place all around the camp.”

Our world often extols victory based on quantity equating success with an overwhelming flood of resources, whether manpower or economics, technology or authority.

In the Book of Judges God calls Gideon to be His servant and defeat the power of Midian against Israel. Gideon is astonished. Not only is his house considered the least in Manasseh, but Gideon himself is the youngest. He cannot perceive how he could become mighty in war. Yet over 30,000 men come to battle at his side. Then, in Chapter seven, God reduces Gideon’s army to 300 men, “lest Israel become boastful.” And arms them with trumpets and torches. Not common tactics.

Yet they obey. They stand their ground. And God indeed makes them mighty.

Sometimes we are barely able to manage even standing still when we face circumstances that overwhelm and subjugate us into oppressive days. We cannot imagine a hint of becoming mighty in our battle. Only by the Spirit’s power can we hold our ground to possibly hope relief will come. And still doubts creep in.

 However when we trust Jesus’ promise to “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me..” and take our place under God’s direction, we too can stand firm in the strength of His word.

He gives us His power to become mighty in our daily wars—His way.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 18:39

“For Thou hast girded me with strength for battle;
Thou has subdued under me those who rose up against me.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Your promise stands

throughout all time

to call on Your name;

to seek Your face.

Hezekiah pleaded

his course changed

added fifteen years.

Yet we continue

to rage or despair

on our own counsel;

forget to ask.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     How comfortable are you in asking God for help in all circumstances?

2.     How willing are you to accept a ‘no’ as easily as a ‘yes’? Do both replies get equal gratitude?

3.     How can knowing our transience enrich each day or burden us? How does our attitude influence that perception?

Share: What new opportunity has the Lord given you today?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

2 Kings 20:5, “Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David. I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed I will heal you, …. I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.”

First Hezekiah brought his weakness as a king to the Lord and out of God’s strength Assyria was routed. Then the king brought his personal physical weakness before the Lord in prayer and received fifteen more years. He had the courage to ask, the faith to believe in the possibility if God so chose to say yes.

Yet, in his extended days, he put Judah and the city of Jerusalem into jeopardy by showing emissaries from Babylon all the treasures, including the house of the Lord. Was his intent to boast in the Lord? Or to intimidate Babylon? Or had he become complacent under the Lord’s favor? When faced with the consequences of his actions Hezekiah was merely grateful he could live out his reign in peace.

How do we react once a crisis has past? How quickly do we fall back into old habits, old patterns of self-centeredness? Or perhaps worse—not even seek God’s will at all, in case His answer is no.

Hezekiah first had the courage to ask. Then somewhere he lost the ability to fully live the gift of years God gave him.

Lord, help us to abide in You every moment of every day and not wait for emergencies and catastrophes to seek Your face, but instead walk with You in the fellowship You have offered us as gift every day. Then, Lord, we can remain in Your counsel, regardless of what the day might bring.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 39:4-5

“Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the extent of my days,
Let me know how transient I am.
Behold, Thou hast made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight,
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


The record stood

Asssyria wins

all other nations lose;

laid waste

lands decimated

beliefs shattered alongside

their pottery idols.

Messengers boasted

resistance futile

so Hezekiah

laid Assyria’s contempt

before God alone

not against the odds.

Asked instead that

all nations might witness

God’s sovereign power.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

            1. What is your immediate reaction to a serious threat? Resistance? Flight? Or hope in the Lord?

            2. How do you prepare time to listen for God’s answer in a time of crisis?

            3. At what point in a crisis do you seek the Lord’s help—before you try to solve it, or after you have failed?

            4. Do you consider that an impending threat might be an opportunity for God’s witness?

Share: How has the Lord given you His strength at a time of personal weakness?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

2 Kings 19, Hezekiah’s prayer for Israel. “Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands,…… So now, O Lord our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

This king did not even try to pretend Israel had any hope of success apart from the Lord. He recognized their weakness and depended on God’s strength. So he took the letter given him and laid it before God seeking guidance.

Detail by detail, step by step. Seeking wisdom—seeking clear directions.

How often do we take special time apart to truly listen down to the minute details of circumstances facing us? How often do we recognize our inadequacy from the very beginning, no matter how much experience and talent we have?

Hurrying to meet the crisis. Tossing out prayers on the run.

Restore in us, O Lord, hearts to pray deeply, to listen carefully for Your will. To come to a place of peace in You, that Your name be honored, that the world around us may know who You are.

In our weakness, in our chaos, please bring us Your peace.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 31:3-4

“For Thou art my rock and my fortress;
For Thy name’s sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me.
Thou wilt pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me;
For Thou art my strength.”

Friday, October 18, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


Elisha’s prayer

opened blind eyes.

Now aware heaven’s

fire burned protection

servant’s view to

spiritual realm.

Then closed soldier’s sight.

Drew into physical

danger, treated with hospitality,

turned anger aside.

Both victories by words, not swords.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     What army with swords drawn is surrounding you this week? Write down their threats against you.

2.     Next to their threats, write down God’s words of promise and protection.

3.     As each threat draws nearer claim your word of promise and see the Lord standing with you.

Share: What word has the Lord given you this week to escape the edge of the sword?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

2 Kings 6: 16-17, “He replied, ‘Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them…So the Lord opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

As Elisha’s servant woke to find an army circling the city, swords at hand, he naturally became concerned. All he could consider was the situation immediately before him and could not see any solution.

How often do we also face the day only considering the swords drawn against us: at work, at home, with extended family. Medical, physical, emotional, relational and spiritual battles can wear us down with such fatigue that we too are blind to any alternatives other than attack or defend.

But Elisha stood within another reality and shared it with his servant.

How would we react to ongoing threats, daily burdens, and sudden danger if we also saw God’s fire surrounding us? In Ephesians six we are given the details of the armor He provides: truth, righteousness, preparation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

As the world’s demands circle us with enticement and pressure and false choices we are not left defenseless. Yet not to fight back with similar weapons. Instead we ask the Lord to open our eyes to see His solution.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 68:19-20

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.
God is to us a God of deliverances;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego

Three men whose

names are often set to song.

Their stories told from

early years.

Wide-eyed listeners breathless

with anticipation.

Feel the flames’

heat in rising cliffhanger.

They started with courage,

conviction to stand true

no matter the consequences.

Their beginning often blurred

behind victory.

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