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Monday, April 29, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:20, “By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau.”

Invoked is a strong word. One we might think of today in terms of a court order. One dictionary refers to it as calling upon or calling down—almost a demand upon what is possible and irrefutable.

It is a word of strength based on facts, on knowledge, on premise—a declaration.

Inner surety of completion of obligation to render a response—even without a full understanding of the consequences. For Isaac his personal preferences were overturned by God’s purpose. But that was not the heart of his request.

Instead trusting in the rightness of the authority.

Isaac claimed blessings by words of faith for his own sons, as his father Abraham had trusted God’s word for him. For the future. For a promise made by God and experienced for himself at the edge of death.

Inherited legacy that demanded intentional willingness to pass along.

Intercession for sons who still had no clear comprehension of the magnitude of the promise before them. Or their obligation to uphold it. Or the loss they faced if discarded.

Intervention to ensure they both lived under God’s rule—secure in His kingdom, protected in their ignorance and their emerging faith. He asked for God’s provision and expected a positive answer.

Imperishable words based on God’s character invoked for the present and the future.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 82:4

“Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

God Could

Without empiric proof
beyond common sense
denied scientific theories
grief ransacking comprehension
still Abraham knew
deep down assurance.

God could.

Relinquished his son.
Received him back.
Restored vision.

Comforts our conflict.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Faith Seeds: 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, April 22, 2013

Faith Seeds: 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.”

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.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 80:19

“O Lord God of hosts, restore us;
Cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Faith Seeds: 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, April 15, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

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

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

As a parent I had no difficulties establishing my ‘authority’. And my children often could tell if a command was open for discussion or not by my voice. Through their growing years they often tested those boundaries to see when they achieved more responsibility. They knew my tone so well that sometimes they recognized they had pushed too far before I did. I had the power to send young children to bed early and withhold car keys from teen-agers.

So I was completely caught off guard when my grandson—then at age three—very matter-of fact—told me he didn’t have to listen to me.  And why is that I asked, since he wasn’t even in any trouble. He was just thinking out loud. “Because only mommy and daddy are my boss.” I gently explained the chain of command, which his parents later confirmed, and once his puzzlement became resolved he nodded in understanding. But since, not always in complete acceptance. When an issue needs to be resolved—for him only his parents have the final word.

I wonder sometimes if my own attitude towards others exercising their authority over me influences my attitude towards God, in my ensuing obedience or outright rebellion. Will I 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.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 66:8-10

“Bless our God, O peoples, And sound His praise abroad,
Who keeps us in life, And does not allow our feet to slip.
For Thou hast tried us, O God; Thou hast refined us as silver is refined.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry


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.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Faith Seeds: Prayers and Poetry

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, April 1, 2013

Faith Seeds: 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.”

This passage brings up so many mixed memories that I realize 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.

Once I refused to leave a highly stressful job situation, because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God had called me there, and in my mind to leave would be breaking a commitment. Despite the fact that everyone praying for me all agreed that a change needed to be made and the increasing despair I faced every day.  Then a wise person quietly mentioned that although God had called him to a particular role, He had also guided him when it was time to leave for another location. I clung for the wrong reasons. And when I finally opened my hands to new possibilities, a whole new season opened up, still using the same skills yet in a fresher and deeper manner.

On the other hand when one child was born in distress, I had no hesitation handing his care over to an unknown pediatrician. I trusted immediately that this complete stranger would do whatever necessary to bring relief to my newborn. Contrary to my anxiety-ridden personality, I had complete peace. Because God stepped in and covered both of us in His care. I too was a newborn in faith then, and neither my child nor I were ready to be tested, only protected.

Often I still need to double check just how tight-fisted I am with the people around me, or time, or resources. I resist change and I like safety. Yesterday, on Resurrection Sunday, our pastor referred to the reality of  “Christ is Risen” as dangerous hope. It’s going to take awhile to process that concept into daily life and yet I wonder if that is exactly why Abraham was able to meet God’s test of faith.

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 Your voice and follow Your plans with dangerous hope.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 56:11-13

“In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Thy vows are binding upon me, O God;
I will render thank offers to Thee.
For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God in the light of the living.”

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