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Friday, December 13, 2019

Purpose: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


So anxious to

relieve distress

we grab for solutions

anything for release

like a toddler

tearing into a package

ignoring the wrapping,

the purpose or person—

mind  set only on object

missing the blessings

we settle for less.

Hebrews 12:6, “’For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’”

Thank you for participating in this devotional reflection through Hebrews Chapter 11 as we reflected on the Lord’s definition of a life lived in faith and hope. May this Christmas bring you grace and joy as we are reminded of the Lord’s faithfulness throughout history—past, present, and future.

And in the New Year, beginning on January the 6th, we will continue to journey with new scripture seeds defining purpose as shared from Paul and Timothy in the book of Philippians.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Reflection: Wait: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1. Is there a promise you feel the Lord gave you that you have not seen fulfilled yet?

2. Are you still trusting or have you given up? Why?

3. What do you consider to be concrete examples of the Lord’s blessing over our definition of best?

4. Do you ever feel that you need to measure up to certain standards first in order to receive His promises? Why?

5. Do you find it difficult to keep your promises to God? What would make it easier?

Share: What promise has the Lord fulfilled for you already that gives you the strength to wait again?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Wait: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11: 40, “since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.”


It’s not something many of us manage to do well. And in our current instant society, it seems to be counterproductive. We each have a personal internal clock that keeps us patient for just so long—and then, we become fidgety, annoyed, irritated, and sometimes hostile. Within our own families, with our closest friends, with those we most care about.

We can’t quite understand that this long list of saints in Hebrews Chapter Eleven not only stood firm in their faith, lived and died by it, but also were willing to endure tremendous hardships without actually receiving the promise in hand. 

Instead we assume we are missing out on something good if we have to wait too long. That we are being denied something better. And it’s quite possible that is true. Because our limited sense of better now is so much less than God’s gift of best then.

When we reach out and grab for instant gratification, we might lose the blessing altogether. Like Esau did in his immediate physical hunger. Or delay the promise, like Abraham and Sarah did by trying to help God fix things our way to speed the results. To engineer a man made solution.

In fact, God’s purposes are so much deeper, and richer, and eternal that we cannot comprehend them, unless we are willing to listen and hope and trust. His provision is for perfection. His love encompasses all His people, not just a select few. We need to trust enough.

To wait.

Lord, please give us eyes to seek Your wholeness, a vision that desires grace and salvation for all, and purify our motives to be willing to wait for Your promises to be fulfilled in Your time, and not ours.

Your thoughts,

Friday, December 6, 2019

Hope: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


A dream is just a

fleeting glimpse, ideas

of delight or challenge

awakening senses to


Becomes hope when

acted on; building

invisible steps towards

visible reality beyond


An anchor in

cold waters, chain

links rise ever

sun-ward keeping the


Hebrews 12:5, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;’”

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Reflection: Promise: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1. Have you ever had to relinquish a promise? Why?

2. How did it affect your faith walk?

3. Are you willing to follow a new path without any guarantee of reward or applause? What kind of path?

Share: What dream has the Lord given you that you need to build steps towards beginning now?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Promise: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:39, “Yet, all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised,”


The promise they followed was beyond their realization or participation. Yet they grasped the value and clung to its beyond fulfillment for themselves and their descendants. They lived into the future while in the present. Now.

How often do we become dismayed if we cannot receive immediate answers or tangible rewards? We are a society of immediate gratification. Even when we acknowledge it, there is often still a part of us that craves some applause.

Yet beauty evolves. Fruit bearing trees often take several seasons to flourish. We study and admire the cycles nature takes. We respect the wondrous perfection of a firefly’s brief lifespan as well as the longevity of a giant tortoise. Each of their days lived in the fullness of what they are.

Hope lives into God’s promises regardless of circumstances. Easier to desire than to do. Unless we live each day trusting and resting in the facts that we too can abide in His presence every moment.  And we too can grasp that gift now.

Lord, help us to walk and work in faith regardless of outward approval or censure. May it be Your Spirit’s word speaking in and through us to share Your hope.

Your thoughts,

Friday, November 29, 2019

Wandered: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Constantly alert to danger

sounds of pursuit

drummed a march in their ears

continuously moving


setting false trails

 adept animal mimics


faith in heart

a conscience hold on reality

despite cave dwellings.

Hebrews 12:4, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;”

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Reflection: Wanderers: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1. How would you cope with silence from God over a period of years? Or have you?

2. Do you find your strength in reading Scripture? What promises sustain you during season of trial?

3. Would you be willing to live in caves for Jesus? What might a cave look like in today’s world?

Share: Have you ever had to run from danger? Were you able to trust God in the midst of it? How?

Monday, November 25, 2019

Wanderers: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:38, “of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.”


Merrill F. Unger refers to the time between the testaments as The Four Hundred Silent Years counting from the prophet Malachi to the arrival of the prophet John the Baptist. Most Biblical records for this era come from Jewish historians.

A the end of one portion of historical Jewish history, sometimes referred to as the time of the Maccabees, they cleansed the Temple and, “They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival of booths, remembering how not long before…they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals.” According to the records this self-banishment lasted almost thirty years.

Their faith took them into this harried lifestyle with no guarantee that they would be rescued, or ever able to return home. They fled in order to remain true to God in worship. They gave up everything they knew and loved to follow faithfully God’s words of truth.

And that day may come again to God’s people.

Would we be as ready to stand up with this level of courage? We who some days get upset over changes to our schedules, perceived intrusions in our lives, and fragile egos at hints of disagreement?

Not apart from the Word and the Spirit to sustain us.

During those silent years the words and stories of Yahweh as told by His prophets carried on through generation-to-generation waiting and hoping for Messiah. And each Lenten season we remember the real deliverance fulfilled. We often choose to give up something during this season, either a habit that has become a hold on us, or time so as to spend more fellowship in prayer.

Sometimes though that focus on making it through Lent without … becomes our primary concern. Or during any other season of life when we face loss and can only manage to make it through the days. Instead, perhaps we should choose to celebrate that Jesus has won the victory for us and that regardless of loss or gain, He supplies true hope every day. His courage every day. His faith every moment.

Lord, please write your words into our hearts, so that we can pass on Your stories to the next generation so that they will know Your hope.

Your thoughts,

Friday, November 22, 2019

Recant: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


A prison cell,

bread and butter,

conditions intended

to break prophet down

recant his words

speed false peace.

Did not waver.

Knew to utter false hope

a greater dungeon

forging spiritual


Hebrews 12:3, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Reflection: Hostility: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1. Whether telling some white lies or not continues to be a ongoing debate, how do you think a consistent pattern of telling white lies can weaken a person’s capacity to tell the truth in a costly confrontation?

2. What is your internal conversation when a friend or mentor gives you negative feedback? What makes you accept it if you do?

3. How willing are you to give honest feedback? Is your style confrontational or compassionate?

Share: Have you spoken truth in a public setting knowing there could be severe consequences? Why? What was the result?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hostility: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11:37, “…persecuted, tormented—”.


When asked to bring forth a prophet to confirm the word of the Lord, King Ahab of Israel reluctantly acknowledged Micaiah. Then added, “but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but always evil.”2 Chronicles 18:26

The prophet once again spoke the words the Lord gave and Ahab angrily ordered Micaiah to prison, to be fed sparingly until his safe return. To which the prophet added, “If you return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.”

We can’t help but consider that the prophet’s answer had a touch of dry irony to it, yet regardless of tone he continued to speak the truth, no matter the consequences. He fully acknowledged his own capacity for error while affirming the undeniable truth of God’s words. And he stood firm on God’s words—willing to accept dire outrage.

What a contrast to the king who kept insisting Micaiah change his words to please him and refusing to listen to truth. So set on his own desires that he willfully chose to react with persecution over honest petition for direction.

Persecution seems a little beyond our own reactions to negative feedback, but is it? How often do we accuse others of malice or envy or misunderstanding or self-serving intent when we receive negative replies? Especially when we have sought out counsel. We may not actually say the words out loud; yet internally argue to mask our refusal to accept truth.

Lord, please give us integrity of heart to choose to listen and speak Your words, instead of refusing them for self-interest.

Your thoughts,

Friday, November 15, 2019

Guilt: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry


Failure to rely on God

burrows into soul

regrets fester,

rise to volcanic surge

with public knowledge.

Unleash blame outward

angry whippings

innocent suffer

their visible scars a

continued witness to guilt,

shame-dug grooves.

Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Reflection: Accusation: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Reflection Questions

1. What is your immediate reaction to accusation?

2. If there is truth to it do you immediately go to God in prayer, or try to explain it away to yourself?

3. How do you speak truth in love within your family, or workplace, to keep relationships open and honest?

Share: Have you had to take a public stand to expose a lie? What was the result?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Accusation: By Faith: Prayers and Poetry

Hebrews 11: 36, “Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment.”


Often in the Old Testament when prophets and seers spoke God’s truth, they received anger, retaliation, and punishment as a response. Ahab threw Micaiah into prison because of his prophecy. King Asa threw Hanani into prison “for delivering an unfavorable word from the Lord.” Jeremiah was placed in prison and into a miry pit for speaking God’s truth. King Herod into the New Testament had John beheaded, and Peter arrested with the intent of a death sentence.

Even today when truth is spoken in public in opposition to leaders in any forum, the retaliation often comes as legal defamation of character or accusations of slander. Real facts get buried under mud-slinging and false witness.

And personally when a truth is spoken personally that we don’t want to hear we almost immediately come up with excuses, blame others, blame circumstances—anything so as not to take responsibility.

Yet God continues to speak truth into our world and into our lives to bring us light, and hope, and restoration. His love confronts the lies we sometimes don’t even recognize we have absorbed, and removes the poison before it takes hold—if we are willing to listen.

Your thoughts,

Friday, November 8, 2019

Refuse: By Faith: 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.

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Reflection: Endurance:By Faith: 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, November 4, 2019

Endurance:By Faith: 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.

Your Thoughts,

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