Burning Bush 2.0 Reflections: Johah

Reflection Questions: Called Hearing and Responding to God’s Voice

Chapter 4: Jonah The Most Reluctant Prophet

Opening Prayer:

 Gracious God, we give you thanks for Jonah and all your prophets who struggled with reluctance, fear, and unwillingness to answer your calling.  We pray that you would sooth and quiet the conflicts within us, that we may more clearly hear your voice and more willingly answer your call; and we pray that we would see you working in our lives and in our world even where we don’t yet know to expect you.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 The book of Jonah is very short and very eventful.  Take this moment to read the 4 chapters of Jonah in one setting.

  •  Why did Jonah decide to flee God’s calling instead of answering it?  Have you ever done anything like that?

  •  Why do we ignore or run away from God’s different callings in our lives?

  •  What message does God give Jonah to proclaim?  Is there any hope in the message?

  •  What is the meaning of God’s love and forgiveness in your life?

  •  How and when have you experienced God’s second chance in your life?

  •  God asks Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  What are the things that anger us in our lives and world?  How do rid ourselves of our anger and seek ways of mercy?

 Closing Prayer

  Patient and merciful God, we thank you for the second chance your grant to your servants.  We thank you for the power of your Word spoken by even the reluctant and unwilling.  Help us to trust your love and mercy and share with any we encounter—even our enemies and those who wish us harm.  Amen.

Burning Bush 2.0 Reflections: Esther

Reflection Questions: Called Hearing and Responding to God’s Voice
Chapter 3: Esther

Opening Prayer: Gracious God, we give you thanks for the courage and witness of Esther, the wisdom and boldness of Mordecai, and the perseverance of your people in every age.  Grant us grace to see and grasp our own power to influence your world for the better, in our own time, grant us the courage to use it, and grant us clarity and patience for all who are divided from us.  We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 Scripture: Read the following scriptural material in the book of Esther.

Esther 1: 10-12, 16, 19                      Esther 5 : 1-3

Esther 2: 15-17                                   Esther 7 :1-5

Esther 3: 1, 5-6                                   Esther 9 :1-4

Esther 4: 10-17

 

  • Why might Queen Vashti be unwilling to appear at the King’s banquet?

  • What is the relationship between Mordecai and Esther?

  • Why does Mordecai tell Esther not to reveal that she is a Jew?  Have you ever felt the need to hide part of yourself like that?

 The Jewish minority in the Persian empire seems to have coexisted with their neighbors peaceably for many years. 

  • What can happen to make people turn against minority groups in this way?

  • Why is Esther reluctant to do what Mordecai asks?

  • Do you relate to Esther’s dilemma?  Are you ever afraid of the consequences of speaking up against an injustice?

 Think through stereotypes you hold or have held in your life.  What helped you examine your stereotypes more fully in your life?  What helped you rethink the stereotypes you have experienced in life?

 Look up the word “salvation”.  What does it mean for God to bring salvation to individuals, groups or countries?  What does it mean to be saved or experience “God’s salvation in your life?

Make a list of times God has saved you from difficulties or struggles. 

 Closing Prayer:

Almighty God, who holds the days and ages of every kingdom and every life in your almighty hand: Give to us your servants a heart with the boldness and faithfulness of Esther and Mordecai; free us from scorn and slander, both that we give and that we receive.  Make us instruments of your peace, justice, and reconciliation in the world.  Help us to hear your voice in the midst of the world’s disorder, to fold our hands in prayer and in labor, and to heed your calling in our time.  Amen.

 

Burning Bush 2.0 Reflections: Samuel

Prayer:

Gracious God, we thank you for the life and witness of your servant Samuel, for the faith of his mother Hannah, and for the guidance of his mentor Eli. We pray that you would enrich your servants here with every good gift. Make us faithful, trustworthy, and brave, that we may bear your creative and saving words to any who need us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read 1 Samuel 1: 1-20; 1 Samuel 3: 1-20

  • Have you ever poured out your soul to God with the depth and humility of Hannah? How did you feel afterward?

  • Not knowing the answer to her prayer will be answered, Hannah gets up and is “sad no longer?” Why do you think this is?

  • Who has been like an Eli to you? Helping you see our calling and direction? Have you done this for someone else?

  • Sometimes living out our call “ requires us to deliver bad news or to engage in the difficult and uncomfortable”. When have you had to do this? How did you feel?

  • Think about the mentors in your life. What did they teach you and help you with? Give God thanks for them.

  • Where is God calling you today? Meditate on this calling and ask God for the next steps.

Prayer:

Gracious God, we give you thanks for your goodness and loving-kindness made known to us in the creation and preservation of all that exists. We pray that you would make yourself known to us, your servants, in our every need and our every good act. We pray especially for…… All this we lift up before you, O God, trusting that you hear us, through Jesus

Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen,

Burning Bush 2.0: Abram and Sarah

Reflection Questions

Opening Prayer:

 Lord God, you have called your servants to follow your leading to places we can’t yet see and by paths, we do not know.  We pray that you would open our hearts and minds to your voice this day and every day ahead, that we would clearly hear, and faithfully follow, your calling to us.  In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.,

 This study is about what it means to be called by God to do certain things in life.  Calling or “vocation” is an idea that includes both the gifts and the desires inside of us and the confirmation that comes from outside of us.  We are thinking about ordinary people called by God to do often extraordinary things.

 Read Genesis 12: 1-4

  • Do you have any family stories about moving, migration, etc?  Or have you made a move that was big and scary?  How did it work out?  What did it mean to your family?

  • Even when we are answering God’s calling, the author says, “We have doubts, reservations, and disappointments, and then something happens to remind us why we should continue pursuing the journey to which we have been called.” 

  • Have you ever experienced assurance when you have struggled to answer a calling?  ( example: caring for new baby, finding a new job etc)?

  • Sometimes, even when we are answering God’s call, the journey is difficult and doesn’t seem clear, like traveling over a rocky passage in a covered wagon.

  •  Make a list of God’s blessings that God has placed in your life so far.

  • Make a list of the ways in which you are, or could be, a blessing to others. 

  • This is what helps us overcome our doubts.

 Closing prayer

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you forget the infinite possibilities born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let God’s presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of us. Amen.

Pause-Listen-Think-Pray-Go by D365

pause

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.

Henry David Thoreau in Walden (1854)

listen

The Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he sat at the entrance of his tent in the day’s heat. He looked up and suddenly saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from his tent entrance to greet them and bowed deeply.

Genesis 18:1-2

think

One of my favorite things about our house is the front porch. I love sitting outside on a warm night with something cold to drink, reading a book, and watching the neighbors walk by. Often, when someone walks by with their kids or their dog, we exchange a wave and sometimes a conversation is sparked. That’s easy with my neighbors, but I have to admit, if three men I didn’t know walked up my street I might say hello. But I’m for sure not inviting them to stay and eat my best food.

Stories like these make me think of just how opposite our culture has become. If most of us saw three men walking outside our home, we might offer them a wave and a hello and then continue about our own business, or we might go inside and lock the door.

Whom do you need to extend a radical welcome to? Are you paying close enough attention to see those opportunities?

Chris Cherry

 

pray

God, help me to see opportunities to welcome others. Help me to see all humans as my neighbors. Amen.

go

You Go now.

Move from a place of hiding.

Seek kindness and there you will find the face of God in every person you meet.

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Devotions by Julie

Hello most precious one. You are getting close to the weekend. I hope you have relaxing plans. I was just scrolling on my computer and a phase popped up. "Faith comes before miracles." It really made me stop and go back to read it again. "Faith comes before miracles." Yep, I read it right. How often do we pray for a miracles to happen in our life.... a loved one who is sick, a child leaving home, a marriage that is rocky. What made me stop and think was that faith comes before a miracle. God says that He is always with us. He tells us we just need to ask in His name, in faith, and it shall be given unto me. That thought also made me stop and think. Do I expect God to answer everything I ask with a yes? Or does He ask me to show faith in Him, to trust that He knows best? A teacher in a class I once took told us that all reason and science go out the window when faith is introduced. He said that science and reason can be proven over and over again. Someone in the room said, but He answers my prayers over and over again. "So prove He exists!" The response was "prove that He doesn't." Faith is believing in someone or something, even when it seems inconceivable that my request can be answered. And remember, sometimes the answer is "no." My prayer for you is that you go to God with faith....the sure assurance that He is with you and has your best interest in His heart...and that you then look for the miracles. Miracles might be missed if you aren't staying conscious of the joy of living your life. May God shine on you and give you His peace. And may He always listen even when I can't talk. Love and hugs!

 

Devotions by Julie

Good morning precious child of God! I trust your day is treating you kindly. Have you ever woke up before your alarm went off and instead of getting out of bed you just lay there thinking of all the things you have to do today. Well, it was one of those moments for me. I was going through the day in my head and hoping that everyone will feel special. You see, I'm taking four grandkids who have birthdays in the month of June and first part of July. I am taking Zak with me so there is another grown up person for the four birthdays. It is a day I look forward to each year...when we celebrate all our anniversaries and all the birthdays plus fathers and Mother's Day. As I laid there going through the logistics of picking them all up, I started talking with God. "Am I nuts for doing this? Can I handle the noise and excitement these kids feel?" God always answers with "peace child, peace." And I go on to the next set of questions. This is probably the best time for a talk with me and my Father because I am still relaxed and ready to listen. My prayer for you today is to look at yourself. When is your time with God? When do you talk together and are you ready and willing to listen? Do you hear God's voice or is there only silence? Do you hear God's voice or do you get a feeling about something and trust that that is God's answer to you? I haven't always heard His voice the way I do now. That took lots of time and lots of learning to be still enough to listen. May you always feel His peace around you and may you rest in the arms of our Father. Love and hugs!