prayer before a hummingbird feeder

 

I have several hummingbird feeders in my yard and most of the year we have guests at those feeders. The Ruby-throated hummers are by nature extremely territorial. If I happen to walk near one of the feeders and there is a hummingbird nearby at the time, I can expect to hear them repeatedly voice their displeasure and often begin to see them zoom about a bit several yards off. However, this month is the first time I have had a hummingbird “strafe” me.

The particular Ruby-throated male I have in mind is exceedingly bold, unflinchingly flying, or even hovering for relatively long periods of time, within 1-2 feet of me. If he is hovering beside me or behind me and I then turn and face him directly, he will immediately put a bit more distance between us – beyond arm’s length – but will then proceed to repeatedly buzz me quite close until either I leave or he changes tactics.

I greatly admire his courage and bravery. How much bigger am I than he? There is no comparison. But does that make a difference in his actions? None whatsoever. I can consistently count on this: if we are in the yard at the same time – and believe me, he knows it if we are – he will confront me, the “enemy,” and will do so courageously with skill and wisdom.

All of which reminds me of two things. First, that one of the themes that runs like a rope throughout the entirety of the book of Acts – the book in the Bible like no other that tells of the true life of our community of faith for today, the church – is backbone and fortitude, guts, and nerve.  In fact, such even forms the final word in the book. It is the dominant thought that Luke, the author, wants imprinted on our mind and ringing in our ears until the end:

“… proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” (Acts 28.31)

Second, it reminds me of things James, Peter, and Paul said:

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4.7)

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith …” (1 Peter 5.8-9a)

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16.13-14)

And so my feathered “friend” – my aerial “hero” – prompts me to pray this way:

God, make me ever like this bird: courageous and strong, skillful and wise, confident and yet well aware of my limitations. May I know no fear save fear of displeasing you and may every beat of my heart be beats of trust in you, for I know you care for me always. So, what have I to fear, for you are with me? And so, may I be with you. Daily. By the courageous Christ I pray. Amen.

LIFE group guide: be brave!

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Oct. 26) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

A call to courage; a summons to live bravely in Christ’s name in a fearsome world.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today … (Exodus 14.13 NIV)

• God says, “Because you are devoted to me, I’ll rescue you. I’ll protect you because you know my name. Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer. I’ll be with you in troubling times. I’ll save you and glorify you. I’ll fill you full with old age. I’ll show you my salvation.” (Psalm 91.14-16 CEB)

• … the righteous are as confident as a lion. (Proverbs 28.1 CEB)

• As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9.51 NIV)

• Stay awake, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong. Everything should be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16.13-14 CEB)

• … the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid … (2 Timothy 1.7 NIV)

• Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. (Hebrews 11.32-34 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. “I remember a situation in which I was brave. I __________.” Seriously or humorously.

2. Tell us about something you did that you even surprised yourself a bit that you did.

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Poll the group. What would test their bravery most: disease, destitution, or derision?

2. Read Psalm 27. What does it say to you about fear and courage?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Is there such a thing as “good fear?” If so, differentiate “good fear” and “bad fear.”

2. Specifically, how do life’s three greatest things – faith, hope & love – inspire courage?

3. Share one of the most encouraging (pouring courage into) acts you’ve ever received.

4. I find I’m most willing to face the difficult or try what I’ve not tried before when I ___.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Make a list of the ways God “braved you up” to face difficult times. Then, thank him.

2. Get involved in a ministry you’ve either not engaged in before or it’s been awhile.