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Friday, March 5, 2021

Safety: Prayers and Poetry

             Safety

            Within and without
            can only be seen
            from clear knowledge.

            Experience both a
            sorrow and a search
            to walk the road chosen.

            In faith in trust
            regardless of persecution
            when our heart is firm.

            Within and without
            wrapped in His grace
            we can live in soul safety.

Matthew 5:11: "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me."

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Reflection: But Deliver Us: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

        1. How often do we forget to ask for guidance and protection before a danger whispers to us?

        2. When you recognize that slight nudge of warning what do you use to get a deeper sense of truth?

        3. How can we extend that to personal prayers and protection prayers for others as the Lord leads?

Share: What prayer request have you found most helpful to stay focused on the Lord's presence in all circumstances?

Monday, March 1, 2021

But Deliver Us: Prayers and Poetry

But Deliver Us 

Matthew 6:13: "But deliver us from evil."

Save

Evil comes in many forms. Sometimes clear and fearful. Sometimes hidden and dangerous. Sometimes ready to battle and sometimes not. Sometimes false.

How to know when to walk away? Or how to identify?

Ask in prayer. Always.

From the tiniest nudge that something is not quite right to a clear confrontation demanding a fight.

Some things may look okay on the outside--a new opportunity--a new friendship--a new adventure. Like Satan's offers to Jesus in the wilderness. Looks great on the outside. Maybe even a position to do much needed good. But there are hidden chains that will weave through our lives and hearts like vines crawling up tighter and tighter until we are bound.

Prayer. Always.

Only the Lord knows our very being. What may be a wonderful opportunity for growth and ministry to one person may be a terrible collapse for another. Each of us have specific boundaries--each of us are fragile to lures. Unless we accept His deliverance we will and do falter. repeatedly.

Prayer. Always.

Your thoughts,

Friday, February 26, 2021

Protection: Prayers and Poetry

                Protection

                Daily He went before them                
                for forty years
                leading them each day
                from within a pillar of cloud.

                Every night
                Every step, every day
                He continued from
                a pillar of fire. Every year.

                Daily He stays with us too
                within our hearts, our souls,
                never leaving, still watching,
                with us--every moment.

Matthew 5:10: "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom oh heaven."
                
                

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Reflection: And Do Not Lead Us: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

    1. What temptations continue to whisper or attack your relationship with the Lord?

    2. What has kept you from seeking His help to resist, or forgiveness to return?

    3. What word, or promise, from Jesus could become your daily hope to shelter you?

Share: What does a firm foundation look like for you?

Monday, February 22, 2021

And Do Not Lead Us: Prayers and Poetry

And Do Not Lead Us

Matthew 6:13: "And lead us not into temptation,"

Temptation

Why would we think that God would lead us into temptation, when Jesus came to save?

Then we remember that even in the perfection of the Garden Adam and Eve chose temptation. And then in the wilderness Satan again tried to turn Jesus from His call of redemption for everyone.

Jesus reminds us here to ask for strength to resist whatever allure or wrong direction is acting as a siren song to turn us away from His truth and His protection.

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Provision. Protection. Prepared.

Will we remember? Will we ask for help? Will we recognize the lies? Will we stay on the path He calls us to regardless of the cost?

Jesus did not hesitate to turn to God in prayer, for Himself and for others.

Your thoughts,

Friday, February 19, 2021

Seventy: As We Forgive: Prayers and Poetry

                 Seventy    

                Times seven

                Jesus said,

                must forgive from

                your heart.

            No exceptions.

                His grace is for all

                regardless of

                their response

                we are to relinquish.

                All resentment.

 Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."


                


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Reflection: As We Forgive: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

                1. Read Ephesians 4:30-32

                2. How can we recognize when we grieve the Holy Spirit in our thoughts and        attitude? 

                3. What are some ways we can overcome our bitterness and anger--especially when we are victims of deliberate malice?

                4. What act of kindness have you received as a response to your own anger against  someone?

Share: How have you found a way, or words, to actively forgive as Christ had forgiven us?

Monday, February 15, 2021

As We Forgive: Prayers and Poetry

 Matthew 6:12: "As we forgive them that trespass against us." (or our debts)

Absolve

Every time. Over and over. From our hearts.

Whether debts, of false accusations, or lies, or hatred, or condemnation.

In his study of parables, Herbert Lockyer shares that: "The word forgive actually means 'forth-give,' that is, to dismiss absolutely from thought."

No grudges. No retaliation. No gossip. No revenge.

One of the most detailed and well-known parable from Jesus is in His response to Peter's question as to how we must forgive another. "Up to seven times?" Seventy times seven was the answer.

Then Jesus shared the story of a man who had been forgiven an enormous debt from the king. But when released he in turn sent a fellow slave, who owed him a much smaller amount, into prison. When the king heard he became extremely angry at the man's lack of mercy and wickedness to another, and so removed his decree and sent him to the torturers. Matthew 18:21-35

In Luke 7:1-4, Jesus again reminds His disciples that repentance is ongoing and to be on guard to forgive. No matter how many times.

Lockyer also shares that: "The truth unfolded in the parable, then, is that forgiveness must be, as it is with God, a constant attitude."

Your thoughts,

Friday, February 12, 2021

Mercy: Prayers and Poetry

                 Mercy

                Sin absolved

                within and without

                when we acknowledge

                our faults--our failures

                own the iniquity.


                Love absorbs

                within and without

                whispers hope

                opens new paths

                offered through His grace.

Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Reflection: And Forgive Us: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

    1. Read Psalm 103's Praise for the Lord's Mercies.

    2. Which of these mercies have you received from a person, from the Lord?

    3. Which of these acts of forgiveness have you been able to give to your loved ones, to friends, or to strangers?

Share: How has embracing forgiveness changed your daily perception?

Monday, February 8, 2021

And Forgive Us: Prayers and Poetry

Matthew 6:12: "And forgive us our trespasses (or debts)" 

Forgive

Trespasses--sin--debts--often intertwine in the Bible verses and stories. But when Jesus gave these words to His disciples they still had no true concept of the price Jesus would pay to open the door to a forgiveness beyond any human ability.

In every aspect of our lives--from the inside out.

"He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults." Psalm 103:10

"As far as the east is from the west so far does He remove our sins." Psalm 103:12

In Ephesians Chapter 2 Paul reminds his readers that they were dead in their sins when they walked in the course of this world that desires power and personal ambition.

Many people throughout history and present times still reject this gift of life, like Saul who would not accept God's grace and looked only to human methods to attempt to gain power.

Yet the Lord offers His mercy again and again. Free will. Free choice.

We only need to accept His costly offering.

"Sin is the refusal of love, whether to give love or to receive it." Thomas Merton.

Your thoughts,

Friday, February 5, 2021

Wonder: Prayers and Poetry

                 Wonder

                Sometimes splashes

                us with surprise

                stunned in awe.

                Or quietly nudges

                us with beauty in

                one small sight.

                Gently washes

                us with His ongoing

                grace and love.

                Whispers daily to comfort

                us when we pause

                with wonder.

Matthew 5:7: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy."

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Reflection: Daily Bread: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

        1. Make a list of some astonishing glimpses of God's grace in your life that caused you to be curious or thankful or both?

        2. How many of them were seen through simplicity, or briefly, yet changed your whole perspective?

        3. What are some ways we can begin to sense His ongoing wonder in our routine days?

Share: In what ways can different types of art also give us brief reminders of how to engage in awe in the ordinary?


Monday, February 1, 2021

Daily Bread: Prayers and Poetry

 Matthew 6:11: "Give us this day our daily bread..".

Daily Bread

Manna, "food of the desert".

"And He rained down manna upon them to eat, And gave them food from heaven. Man did eat the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance." Psalm 78:24

Completely mystified by the flaky fiber carpeting surrounding their camp, Israel asked Moses "what is it?"

God's provision given one day at a time. Morning by morning. For forty years. Did they still marvel in awe every day or began to take it for granted? Or annoyed when it stopped and they had to learn to provide for themselves?

Bewildered disciples struggled to understand Jesus' kingdom too. Not of this earth, but sufficient for the needs of each day. Not a fact explainable, but a fact undeniable.

A different reality, sent from God, delivered by Jesus' own hand--then and now.

Thoughts crowd, convict our minds. God's kingdom present here? Can we grasp it? Explore it? Live it? What does it mean?

Far reaching implications that extends beyond only physical food but extends to heart and mind and soul hunger as well. Daily we are given this gift of wonder--even in times of deep grief and sorrow.

Open our eyes Lord to see bright glimpses of Your presence clearly, and live each day nourished by Your spiritual daily bread.

Your thoughts,

Friday, January 29, 2021

Got This: Prayers and Poetry

                 Got This

                Too often we forget

                we cannot see the whole

                picture or misinterpret

                our will for His.


                Focus on solution

                a plan to succeed.


                Except He searches hearts

                to be washed of sin

                and become unbroken

                in His love.

Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied."


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Reflection: Thy Will: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

         1.What are some ways we can distinguish between the Lord's purpose or our  own weak interpretation? 

        2. How can the world's ways bend our understanding or attitude away from God's intentions?

        3. How can delighting in His will and His law keep us grounded in His guidance?

Share: What is the most difficult situation you have experienced under the Lord's grace and mercy to fulfill His will? How has that transformed you?

Monday, January 25, 2021

Thy Will: Prayers and Poetry

 Thy Will: Prayers and Poetry

Matthew 6:10: "Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven."

Will

Have you ever watched a toddler struggling with an action and leaned in to help or show the way and been refused? And then came a temper tantrum or cries of frustration?

How often as adults do we also assume we know what is needed in a situation and instead of praying, or thinking it through, we take an "I've got this" attitude? Then when it doesn't work out, or someone else has to take over we let embarrassment, or annoyance, or resentment, or anger creep in?

A strong personal heart can give us the strength to undergo serious life circumstances. But when we put our will our way above the Lord's guidance or His directions we often cause personal friction and possible failure.

Knowing truth and living into truth can be very different.

So how can we tell the difference? "I delight to do Thy will, O my God: Thy law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8 His words--His way. Jesus continually faced jeers, arguments, disbelief, and hatred, but he continued to follow God's plan in all circumstances.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

Your thoughts,

Friday, January 22, 2021

Protect: Prayer and Poetry

                  Protect

                Although we cannot see

                or often feel His presence

                His Holy Spirit

                stands guard

                moment by moment

                ready to protect

                when we remember

                His kingdom is still whole

                waiting in His power.

                His healing. His life. His creation.

Matthew 5:5: "Blessed are the gentle, for they will be comforted."

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Reflection Questions: Kingdom: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions:

        1. How does this promise from God give us a new perspective to face the repetitive ongoing man-made battles for power?

        2. In what ways can we each approach "His kingdom" within our own daily struggles?

        3. How can this promise affect our prayers?

Share: In what ways does the reminder of the protection of His tree of life give us comfort now?

Monday, January 18, 2021

KIngdom: Prayers and Poetry

Matthew 6:10: "Thy kingdom come;"

Kingdom

How do we define a kingdom? One definition, according to the dictionary, is to achieve recognition or supremacy. History confirms that concept with civilizations that have risen and fallen, and with individual leaders in multiple arenas of success in many fields. And as individuals when we focus only on our personal definition of our personal domain.

Our common impression is power and prestige--whether good or evil.

Yet God's version of His kingdom does not match man made versions.

His kingdom began in creation: heaven and earth, light from darkness, separate days, separated waters, vegetation, seasons, days, years, light of sun and moon and stars, swarms of creatures, birds, animals, and God saw it all as good. Then "God created man in His own image,...male and female He created them. And God blessed them...And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good."

But then came their deceit and to protect all mankind He separated them from the tree of life on earth. His kingdom in heaven remains separate and whole. Waiting.

His earth created kingdom will be restored. "And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there will no longer be any curse;" Revelation 22:2-3.

He will be present among mankind again. His kingdom--His power is always aimed for creation and wholeness and life. His invitation is "Come." "Let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take that water of life without cost."

Jesus opened that door again--to  live in the Lord's presence now--even in the ongoing mankind battle for power. In His kingdom there is only healing in His time.

"Thy kingdom come."

Your thoughts,

Friday, January 15, 2021

Awe: Prayers and Poetry

                 Awe

                In His presence

                we are overwhelmed

                by grace.

                Like Isaiah know

                we are broken

                shards.

                Ruined pieces

                we cannot see hope our

                sorrow too deep. Then.

                He brings restoration.

Matthew 5:4: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Reflection: Hallowed: Prayers and Poetry

 Reflection Questions

        1. When you realized the Lord's offered gift of a personal relationship with Him how did you react emotionally?

        2. How does that wonder turn your heart and mind upside down?

        3. When, or why, does that sense of wonder become ordinary?

Share: What word or thought do you think could help us t remember to include a hallowed respect when we talk and pray with the Lord?

Monday, January 11, 2021

Hallowed: Prayers and Poetry

 Matthew 6:9: "Hallowed be Thy name;"

Hallowed

When Moses met God at the burning bush he was told that he stood on holy ground. And was given God's name: I AM WHO I AM. The priests were given very strict guidelines before their worship and work within the temple. Especially when the High Priest went into the Hoy of Holies in the  tabernacle.

Holiness. Awe. Respect. Fear.

When the Lord came in person to Isaiah his immediate response was: "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King the Lord of Hosts."

Throughout the Old Testament specific people were called by God for specific reasons, and each one was overcome by being in His Holy presence.

Jesus came and opened that relationship with everyone who accepts Him as Messiah. He walked among the crowds of believers and non-believers. He brought healing and hope and holiness into our lives. And they were all amazed then.

Hallowed. Jesus includes this word in His guidance for us to "Pray, then in this way."

Are we? We often stand in awe at nature both in the daily glory of sunrise and sunset. And staggered by the danger in earthquakes and tsunamis. But sometimes take for granted His presence--His gift of the Holy Spirit--present daily. His astonishing gift of presence, and ongoing invitation to walk with Him.

"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of the hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah 6:3.

Your thoughts,


Friday, January 8, 2021

Our: Prayers and Poetry

               Our

                El Olam

                Everlasting

                Moment by moment

                Mercy never failing

                Holds each one of us as

                His beloved heirs

                Creator--Redeemer

                Rescuer--Christ the Lord

Matthew 5:3: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Reflection Questions: Our Father: Prayers and Poetry

1. How does the idea of a combined "our" feel  towards a difficult relationship? Does it stretch your feelings or give you a sense of peace?

2. Make your list of your expectations from a father. How much is measured by human fathers or God as Father? How can that affect your current family?

3. In what ways can knowing the limitless of our Creator in heaven bring healing to the grief of loved ones facing death?

Share: What other name for Father would you like to call Him?

Monday, January 4, 2021

Our Father: Prayers and Poetry

 The Lord's Prayer Introduction

Psalm 27:1-2: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell."

New Year Blessings!

This year our beginning devotional series is based on a familiar prayer that we share often. Yet, sometimes we can become so comfortable with a well-known passage that we unconsciously skim through it. Even, or maybe especially, the ones that we consider as strong foundations to our faith walk. It is already so written into our hearts that we miss its power and daily presence.

So for the first three months we'll take a deep breath and slowly re-absorb the Lord's Prayer. This past year has brought so much tension, sorrow, grief, and confusion even within loving family and friends and hope. Let's re-absorb this prayer Jesus gave to each believer then and now. 

This study unfolds into three parts. On Mondays we will reflect on a scripture passage. Wednesdays consider meditative questions. Fridays respond with poetry.

The Matthew verse translations are from the NASB, as are the closing verses.

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

Our Father: Prayers and Poetry

Matthew 6:9: "Our Father, who art in heaven,"

Our

Not mine, nor yours, not his or hers, or theirs. No distinction of privilege or poverty, of age, of level of education, location of country, or language, or color of skin.

When we accept the gift of grace God offers t each of us individually we are then all together on equal ground--an internal family that is timeless.

"..you are all one in Christ Jesus. And you belong to Christ....heirs according to promise." Galatians 3:28

Father

For some of us the name father brings immediate love and memories and a safe heart from our human father. For many of us the name father brings sorrow, and sadness, and often memories of fear. Or abandonment. And never knowing why or who.

So although we believe and accept with trust God's parental character 'father' can still be a difficult barrier in our heart and trust when we pray. So we skim over the thoughts and the understanding of the depth of His love. Or try to ignore our hesitancy to fully trust.

But our Scriptures overflow with other name we have been given to use as well: Creator, Redeemer, El Shaddi, Elohim, Jehovah. Or El Olam (the Everlasting). 

His love and grace and mercy extend beyond our limited human experiences.

Who art in heaven

Limitless. His promises are eternal. We may have no way now to comprehend because on our temporary earthly life we face deaths throughout all the years. And the grief can overwhelm in histories of wars and illness and pandemic. Heaven means life. In His timing. We will see Him face to face along with our loved ones. A reconciliation and new beginnings far far beyond our imagination. Except we know we are His heirs and His family through mercy, grace, and redemption.

Your thoughts,

 
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