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Friday, September 29, 2017

Decision: Listen: Prayers and Poetry


                        Law now fulfilled

                        choice now to accept

                        live each day either

                        by flesh or by Spirit

                        leave self cravings

                        that manipulate

                        larger instead of

                        restoration by

                        love’s eternal caress

                        crossroad decision

                        leaves permanent markings.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Reflection: Portal: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     What significance does the position beside the gates imply for wisdom waiting?

2.     What heart actions do we need to take to choose Spirit living?

3.     How does sin continue to harass in spite of the Spirit’s presence?

Share: What gate are you trying to enter today?

Monday, September 25, 2017

Portal: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Romans 8: 4

“So that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Fulfillment. Decision. Choice. Hesitate. Why?

The requirement has been fulfilled—a done deal—whether we participate or not. Grace still waits for our willingness to commit. No coercion. No forced action.

The door is open and the good news is cried out to all who will hear. And yet we often linger, wait a bit longer to choose whether to accept, to enter into a new relationship that will upend our lives forever.

Still in shock at the magnitude of love? Still trying to absorb a gift that cannot be grasped and managed into our self-control? Still clinging to the possibility that we can be fixed by our own determination?

So we hesitate at the gate. Wondering. Hoping. Waiting for courage to accept.

Maybe we take the first few steps thinking we can do both. Listen to wisdom prompts but then adjust them to our personal style—still be in charge. Limited by the power we can recognize. We try to hide pieces of our hearts, just in case this new relationship fails.

Except then we are still not walking in fellowship freedom because we know not to fully trust ourselves and we don’t know how to trust the unknown path before us.

A daily crossroad. A daily decision. A daily opportunity. Walk in the Spirit.

Lord, show us how to listen and to trust where Your Spirit leads.

Psalm of Worship: Proverbs 8:3

“Beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries out.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Conquered: Listen: Prayers and Poetry


                        Flesh withers

                        through time

                        famine and disease.

                        Tangible decay

                        common ground

                        of all humanity.

                        Often do not

                        recognize internal sin

                        oppression of soul.

                        Conquered by Savior

                        waged battle for all generations

                        forgiveness bought.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reflection: Done: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     How clearly do we understand that God has condemned and conquered sin?

2.     Do we accept it daily in our personal lives? Why or why not?

3.     What can acceptance look like in practical action?

4.     Are we willing to let go of our own methods and trust His?

Share: How has His gift given you the ability to stand firm in battle this week?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Done: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Romans 8:3

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”

How many times have we become discouraged over our attitudes and actions, towards ourselves and others knowing they are not acceptable or kind or caring? Plus these daily struggles may not even come close to acknowledging the even deeper sins we keep buried from our own sight.

Even when we honestly take on the battles we recognize Psalm 127:1 reminds us that, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

Yet how often do we trudge along on our own solutions expecting ongoing success? We may well win long and often and yet, since we cannot eradicate them, our sins continue to hibernate and wait for the opportunity to strike again.

And those are the ones we admit and recognize. How deep do our secret ones go—especially the ones we have never encountered.

No matter how many rules and intentions we set for ourselves they are useless apart from His condemnation of sin. We will still be in a battle but now we know there is true victory and relief in sight. Even if we experience external loss as a result, our hearts and souls belong to Christ. He enables us to stand firm.

All our brokenness can be brought into healing light. We are no longer left helpless. He lifts us up out of sin’s grasp into new life.

Lord, by Your power, please enable us to stand firm in Your truth and face our sin with boldness, especially in our weaknesses.

Psalm of Worship: Proverbs 8:2

“On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;”

Friday, September 15, 2017

Desperate: Listen: Prayers and Poetry


                        Cry for freedom
                        comes from deep within

                        our hearts straining against
                        oppressive fears

                        desperate for release of
                        despair and loss

                        not recognizing battle
                        needs not external

                        instead our souls crave
                        internal restoration

                        true law under love
                        truth spoken in Spirit

                        who never abandons
                        walks steadfastly

                        bringing true freedom
                        bought at a cross.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Reflection: Free: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1.     What kind of freedom do you dream of?

2.     How would you spend it if possible?

3.     When have you experienced heart freedom while in an external prison situation?

4.     When has your heart been imprisoned while in an external freedom?

Share: What made the difference in each situation?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Free: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Romans 8:2

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

We each have our particular definitions of what freedom is. Whether in regard to personal limitations of health, finance, relationships, or outreach in society, government, and legal justice.

Whatever is our foundation reason, the lure to be fully free—to be released from any boundaries—to resist limitations is common ground almost daily. Our hearts can rage from petty discomforts to staggering atrocities.

Yet no boundaries of any kind can also bring chaos and destruction. Our world’s history offers countless examples of sinful devastation when individuals and countries refuse any accountability.

Or, in reverse, establish such legalistic boundaries that deny human compassion or value for lives.

Once again Jesus upends our perspective. Law is internal—not external. Law is freedom within boundaries. Law is life giving—not death. His law gives us the soul freedom to live fully open, fully honest, and fully valued. Spirit led.

Freedom from the power of sin and death is astonishing!

It changes everything—everyone—every time. It redefines boundaries and opportunities and possibilities from despair and death to hope and life. Regardless of whether we are imprisoned in chains or flying unencumbered in the wind, He gifts us with His law.

Lord, show us how to accept with thanksgiving and joy Your daily gift of life in all circumstances. To walk with you from the inside out by Your Spirit’s words. Bring Your light into our desperate cries.

Psalm of Worship: Proverbs 8:1

“Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?”

Friday, September 8, 2017

Redeems: Listen: Prayers and Poetry


                        No condemnation.

                        Not a concept we often comprehend

                        as wounds sear our own hearts

                        as well as ours towards others

                        cheat, liar, ingrate

                        carnal, loser, imbecile

                        we toss out labels spoken or not

                        words true or not

                        to ease our own discomfort

                        to ignore our own limitations

                        by conceit and false control

                        bury our sins.

                        Yet He sees our stain

                        yearns to set us free.

                        In Him grace,

                        In Him forgiveness.

                        He paid our debt,

                        He redeems our lives.

                        No condemnation.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Reflection: Condemnation: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1. How do you discern between condemnation and accountability?

2. What condemning words seared your heart as a child?

3. What condemning words do you still use against yourself?

4. Toward others?

Share: What word of grace has the Lord given you to remove your condemnation?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Condemnation: Listen: Prayers and Poetry

Reading: Romans 8:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

No Condemnation!

How is that possible? Every day we mess up somewhere. Even if others don’t see our failures we do. And depending on the chastising voices we carry around within us, or repeatedly hear from others around us, we know when we falter.

Factual—measurable—life consequences.

When Job’s life dissolved around him, his friends tried to help him discover the sins that had caused such disaster. Someone had to be at fault they immediately assumed. Our instinctive response is to punish. God chooses to offer each of us redemption.

It’s a difficult concept for our hearts and minds to adjust to and accept as a reality because we each know the reprimand we personally deserve on so many levels.

Yet, God says He does not condemn. When we listen to His words and His voice we hear forgiveness and mercy undergirding the accountability we still need to acknowledge. His love and grace restore us from a life lived within the sins.

So why can we not stop condemning ourselves, and others, with the same words of grace and understanding too? Instead, we often allow the accountability to become ongoing judgment that grows distrust and fear and suspicion and often hatred. We only recognize the outward stain of sin and, from our viewpoint. We see hearts as stained forever expanding the brokenness.

God’s words. His love. His river of grace sweeps all our prejudices of blame away like shattered glass. Instead we see through His eyes and the mirror reflects back hope. New life. New beginnings. We can take baby steps of comprehension of outstanding compassion.

Because of Jesus’ life sacrifice. He paid our debts. He opens a bold path to a new understanding. To now be able to truly listen to His words and hear their possibilities.

Lives that listen to an everlasting truth.

In Faith’s Check Book, author Charles Spurgeon says, “He who has purified us with the blood of Jesus will so cleanse us by the water of the Holy Spirit. … Cleansing is a covenant blessing and the covenant is ordered in all things and sure.”

To be cleansed, led, and refined by the Spirit’s discerning grace requires a whole new perspective from our human interpretations. It’s an inside-out comprehension that can often enable us to make bold steps of faith and insight. Towards lives that encourage us to walk with listening hearts.

Lord, today, whenever a word of condemnation forms against myself or another please remind me to change it to a word of prayer by Your grace.

Psalm of Worship: Isaiah 55:8

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.”

Through this study Listen, of Romans chapter eight, we will pause to hear the Spirit’s discerning words. Powerful words that too often get buried under daily stress. Do we trust in the Lord? Are we willing to be challenged and changed? Even in seasons of silence? Job never did receive answers. When he met with God all his questions dissolved. Being with Him alone gave Job a new foundation.

Mondays we will reflect on a Scripture passage. Wednesdays consider meditative questions. Fridays respond with poetry.

Thank you for sharing in our journey. Please share as you discover your own questions and insights, prose and prayers.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bird Struck! Albatross

Family Devotional

Day Thirty-Two

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” John 16:12

Albatrosses have a wingspan of up to twelve feet and rarely flap their wings. Instead they gracefully fly the ocean wind currents soaring up and down indefinitely. When there is no wind, they cannot fly.

Sailors were in awe of them. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a tale of the bad consequences when a seaman shot one. Often it is regarded as a symbol of sin and retribution.

Jesus wanted His disciples to know about the Holy Spirit so that they would always choose to do the right thing.

Often we know what we should do, but we choose not to, and then we have consequences we don’t like. For example, if we don’t study for a test and then we get a bad grade, it’s not someone else’s fault.

The Spirit helps us to choose to act wisely. He is often also described as coming like the wind.

Just like the sailors didn’t understand how the albatross could ride the wind currents, we don’t always understand how the Spirit speaks to us. However, we know he is good because Jesus sent him to us, and we need to remember to respect him.

1. Write down some questions you have about how to know what things are true and what is not.

2. Ask an adult to show you how to find out the answers.

3. Think of a way you can explain what truth is to someone who asks you.

Read More
John 16:5-15
1 Thessalonians 5:19

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