Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Do Not Fear


What do you fear? Death, destruction, work, joblessness, homelessness, enemies, hatred, confrontation, trials, divorce, discord, quarrels, loneliness—I could go on and on. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. Fear disrupts our lives. Fear comes from the evil one. 

The devil loves to cause us to fear. Fear keeps our eyes on our situation and off of God. God says, “Do not fear.” Over and over again God tells us in His Word not to fear, not to be afraid, not to worry. Do we listen? Do we follow His instructions?

I wanted to post a simple message today using Scripture in a picture. However, I encountered many problems as I tried to simply post the meme. Little irritating glitches with technology plagued my every move. I stopped and reread the verse. I suddenly realized why I faced obstacles in posting. It’s a verse Satan wants to put aside. 

BUT GOD wants us to hear. And He helped me to persevere. 

This Bible verse has become one of my favorite verses. It is my “go to” verse. God speaks to me through this verse and gives me strength. And He’ll do the same for you. 

Read it over and over again until it strengthens you with peaceful resolve. God is in control. Trust Him with every single situation in your life. It doesn’t matter how big or small your circumstance. God is able. Have faith in Him. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Arch of Promise


I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,  Genesis 9:13-14 (NASB)




When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  Genesis 9:16 (NASB)




An artist stands before her easel, paintbrush in hand. Impressive scenery takes shape on her canvas. Any bystander can gage the size of the artist to the scene she creates. Using this frame of reference, imagine God before His heavenly canopy placing His bow, His rainbow, in a cloud. 

At any time onlookers can gaze at God’s magnificent
scenes in the heavens. When we realize the greatness of our Creator, it becomes easier to comprehend how clouds are the dust of His feet. Those massive billowy forms bear His footprints. He walks among the clouds. He is mighty.

Sometimes those billows bring rain. If they are rolled up ferociously into a hurricane with gale force winds and surging waters, devastation occurs. The southeastern coast of the United States is experiencing such turbulence. My home state of North Carolina, as well as the state of South Carolina, is encountering extreme ruin. Danger, destruction, and clouds surround all residents. Many of my family and friends live there. 

Intense weather has whipped throughout the area. Everyday life has been stripped away. The normal routine has been submerged. It’s back to the basics of life, the barebones of existence. No fluff, only rough. Where is God? And why has He allowed such disaster? 

I don’t understand why this tragedy has occurred. I can’t answer why the God of the universe didn’t stop the hurricane. He is God and I am not. But I do know that He is available to all who call on His name. He meets us where we are. Could it be He wants us to yearn for Him more than anything in this world?

Noah and his family survived a catastrophic flood. They were the only ones who survived. Death and destruction had confined them to the ark. Their old life was gone. They were in survival mode. They lived through forty cloudy days and nights as water swelled around their vessel. Forty straight days and nights of rain and clouds! Were they frightened? Angry? Yearning for their stuff back home? Quite possibly they were sick and tired of clouds. Did they complain? Did they forget God was near?  

I think I can answer those questions with a resounding YES! If I had been on the ark or if I was on North Carolina’s coast right now, I would be crying with fear. I might be screaming WHY while I wished for my old life back. I’m sure I would see the clouds as just clouds and not the dust of His feet. 

Until the day God sets His rainbow in the clouds.

The rainbow was God’s promise to Noah of an everlasting covenant with His people. The rainbow guarantees a brighter day. Hope for tomorrow. The silver lining in the clouds. An array of breathtaking color.

The rainbow calls to remembrance the covenant between God and man. Its appearance reminds us that we are not forgotten. Its beauty awakens us to the presence of an Almighty God. We can celebrate, not only at Christmas time but every single day, the presence of Immanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ. And Jesus promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He is faithful.

Suffering usually strips us of our pretenses. It brings us to our knees, down to the nitty-gritty. And that’s where we can find Jesus waiting on us. To lift us up in times of sorrow, sickness, and sadness. To help us in our times of need. To offer hope when it’s all gone. As Scripture tells us:

God also bound himself with an oath, so that those he promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether he might change his plans.

He has given us both his promise and his oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. Now all those who flee to him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without doubt that he will give them the salvation he has promised them.

This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven, where Christ has gone ahead to plead for us from his position as our High Priest, with the honor and rank of Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6:17-20 (TLB)

He has made His promise of faithfulness to Noah and to us. He will do it. Do you believe? 










Sunday, September 9, 2018

Treasure of Truth


Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.  2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NASB)




X marks the spot…..

     Somewhere over the rainbow…..
                       

                         Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
                                                


Treasure conjures up many images. A chest full of gold trinkets, beads, coins. A jewelry box containing diamond rings and necklaces. The many irreplaceable things we cling to when loved ones die. Treasures don’t have to be expensive. Where one sees junk, another sees treasure. The value of a treasure depends on its personal worth. 

Since my parents died, I’ve clung to things they left behind. I cherish their belongings more since their departure from this earth. I wear a diamond ring given to my mom by my dad on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It has monetary value, but its worth escalates for me because it was a part of them. 

Through the years I’ve accumulated what I consider precious and priceless treasures. Gifts from my husband, pictures drawn by my children, mementos from my grandchildren, on and on and on. Stuff I embrace. Things I can’t let go. As precious as they are to me, they remain stuff, simply stuff. Why do I cling so tightly to them? 

Questioning the worth of it all, I hear words spoken on a mountain by a very wise teacher. “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus spoke these words to His followers in the Sermon on the Mount. He offered eternal life not material life. The accuracy of His words of wisdom rings true today. Why do I allow myself to become ensnared with stuff that does nothing for me? Why is Jesus not the treasure trove I desire? Lord, transform my trivial thoughts to true treasure. 

Without warning, memories crop up and I’m
reminded of a reliable inheritance. Wonderful memories of attending Sunday school and church with my family. Listening to my dad read daily devotions with prayer at the table. Hearing my mom read Bible stories at bedtime. Not only did my parents endow us with material belongings, they left a legacy of faith in God Almighty. My sisters and I were taught about a God who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to save us from sin. We learned about Jesus and He is the greatest treasure of all.

Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He came to earth to represent the Heavenly Father. He preached words of eternal life (John 6:68-69). He was, is, and will be the Holy One of God. The apostle John tells us He is the Word of God that existed with God from the very beginning. John even explains who Jesus is in detail. 

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.  John 1:1-5 (TLB)

These words describe true treasure, God through Jesus Christ. He is a firm foundation, ageless advice, trustworthy truth. He is the Light of the world sent into the world to save the world. 

We may possess many worldly goods and personal effects to pass on to our children, but it’s all superfluous. What we consider treasure in this world could get taken from us. It won’t last. It’s replaceable. It’s just stuff.

God has given us Himself through Jesus Christ. He has entrusted us with His truth. We must hold this truth tightly in our hearts and yet share abundantly with others. 

Make Jesus and His truth the treasure you cherish. Make sure He’s the legacy you leave.


Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.  Hebrews 13:7-9 (NIV)



Michael W. Smith - Ancient words......

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Clouds of Glory


Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  Exodus 40:34-35 (NASB)

It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.  1 Kings 8:10-11 (NASB)


He is God and we are not. We are minuscule in the grand scheme of things. Consider the vastness of the heavens, the universe. Earth is a small part of the cosmos. Each one of us is a tiny part of earth. Still we belong to a Creator who knows our very hearts. He even desires a relationship with us. 

Moses had the benefit of an intimate relationship with Almighty God while also being a conduit for some of the Lord’s most celebrated miracles. In today’s world he would have made the headlines, gaining instant popularity. Yet Moses wasn’t anymore special than you or me. He simply chose to follow God and obey His direction for the deliverance of the Israelites. 

Consider the many miraculous events Moses experienced. One such encounter involved the Lord’s glory filling up the tabernacle. When Moses had finished erecting a place for God to dwell, His presence in a cloud settled over the tent of meeting and filled the tabernacle to capacity. It was so awesome Moses was unable to enter the tent. Try to envision God’s presence in an enveloping cloud. Imagine the grandeur of God Almighty holding you back from getting close. How did Moses react? What would you have done? 

It’s hard for human beings to grasp the expanse of a mighty God. Still this powerful God reigned in a cloud by day and fire by night leading the Israelites through the wilderness. He never left them. He doesn’t leave us either. 

Many years later God’s splendor resided in the temple Solomon built. The cloud filled the house of the Lord preventing the priests from performing their duties. God’s magnificence overpowered them. Solomon confirmed he had built a lofty house for God while remembering the Lord had said He would dwell in the thick cloud. Imagine the majesty of the Temple built by human hands. Now consider the resplendence of a God-filled cloud occupying the very foundation of human construction. 

Solomon and the assembly of Israel offered up their praises, dedicating the Temple to the Lord. The king lifted his hands toward heaven saying, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or earth below.”

King Solomon understood the greatness of God. He continued, “Will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” The king felt humility before an awesome God while also understanding that his Heavenly Father heard his prayer (1 King 8:23-29). He hears our prayers too.

While in Ireland this summer, my family and I felt God’s awesome presence in a cloud. We stood on a sun-draped hill above the ocean, gazing at a distant cloud cover over the horizon. Standing still we noticed it advancing toward us. From end to end this billowing cloud steadily moved over the earth until it enveloped us. Eventually it proceeded over and behind us. Speechless and transfixed we admired God’s glory. We were awed by His presence, humbled by His greatness. When we were able to move again, we simply uttered, “Only God.”

Moses and Solomon understood God’s greatness. They witnessed evidence of His power. I stood within a mighty cloud and felt His presence. Maybe you’ve encountered His magnificence. When we humans are truly aware of God’s majesty, we realize our insignificance. But when we understand how much this supreme God loves and cares for us, we are overwhelmed with humble gratitude. 

God IS great and God IS good. He is a powerful Being who cares for each one of us. He hears our cries and listens to our prayers. Trust and obey Him. Have faith in His ability to take care of your loved ones. He is God and we are not. HE IS ABLE.


Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!  Psalm 8 (NIV)



Worship God with Steven Curtis Chapman singing "God is God".......

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Hope's Focus, Faith's Promise


“I love You, O Lord, my strength.”
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my
deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
And I am saved from my enemies.  
Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord,
And I will sing praises to Your name.  Psalm 18:1-3, 49 (NASB)



Boldly I am able to say the Lord is my strength. No matter the troubles I encounter, even if overwhelmed by sadness, I can walk in confidence daily because of my Savior Jesus Christ. With Him all things are possible (Mark 9:23).

However, there was a time I doubted my resilience from day to day, even minute to minute. When I experienced misery from the choices of a prodigal child, heartache and sorrow wracked my soul. At times I felt incapable of moving forward. I longed for bygone days of innocence and laughter with my daughter. But I could do nothing to alter the situation. The more I pleaded, the worst it got. The more I argued, the bigger the fight. The only thing I could do was let go, pray, and let God.

Prayer was my direct line to the One who totally understood my pain. Even though I rendered only cries of torment and screams of anger, He still loved me. He listened with compassion and encouraged me with His Word. Though I doubted His presence at times, He never left my side. He surrounded me with empathetic friends who supported me when I needed a human touch. He patiently waited with open arms for me to embrace His peaceful gift of comfort. 

It’s difficult to trust Someone we don’t see. That’s where faith comes in. Bound in hope, faith becomes a certainty. The assurance of expected evidence—conviction of expectation. Faith relies on God.

Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped (expected) for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)

Are you struggling to trust God in your circumstances? Are you overwhelmed with weariness? Discover His hopeful message in the Bible. Scripture is full of His promises and He is the promise keeper. 

Surrender your worry to Him. Praise Him in your storm. He rides on the clouds to rescue you from fear. Believe that the dust of His feet is in your cloudy situation (Nahum 1:3). Trust Him. And receive the offering of His peaceful strength. 


And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”  Mark 9:23 (NASB)

Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27 (NASB)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Within the Cloud




A cloud covering encircled the mountain, filled with God’s glory.
God called down to Moses, “Come up to Me and remain here for a while.”
Leaving everyone behind, Moses started up the mountain alone. 

“I’m coming, Lord,” Moses called out as he trekked the steep peak. 
Keeping his eyes forward and upward, he climbed, 
Through haze, fog, and cloudy moisture.
Cool, damp air hemmed him in. 

Eventually the dense mass distracted him. 
He wasn’t sure which way to go. 
What if he fell off a cliff?
What if he stumbled over rocks?
What if he confronted a wild animal?

Fear gripped him.
His mind filled with uncertainty. 
“Help me, Lord,” he cried.
You called me to come up, right? Where are you, God?” he yelled.

Silence, deafening silence,
Days of quiet, nights of doubt. 
“God, I need you,” he screamed. 

His mind conflicted with anxious memories of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army until….
Remembrances of rescue and the parted sea rushed in, delivering peace. 

Slowly Moses moved forward, clinging to thoughts of God’s faithfulness. 
“I put my trust in you, Lord,” he prayed.

Moses continued the journey.
Finally the Lord called out to him on the seventh day.
“I am here,” God said. “Come to Me.”

Immediately Moses perceived God’s presence.
He knew he wasn’t alone.
The glory of the Lord overfilled the cloudy mist.

Love and compassion, mercy and grace soaked Moses’ heart.
Peace exceeding understanding saturated his mind.
He knew, without a shadow of doubt, God existed and cared for His people, for him.
Nothing else mattered but experiencing God.

When the clouds gathered, God’s presence intensified. 
Within the cloudy haze, God reigned
And joy bubbled within the man of God.  (based on Exodus 24)


Do clouds hang over you, dripping with doubt and confusion, fear and pain? Are they obstructing your view of God? Do you feel abandoned and alone?

At times in my life, I have allowed dark clouds to muddle my mind with angst. Worry has filled in the empty spaces, causing my stomach to churn. I’ve lived in fear until turning my focus onto Jesus. Only then did His peace prevail in my heart and mind. 

Moses, like all of us, experienced cloudy days and defeatist emotions. Can you imagine all the negativity he dealt with, the personalities he struggled with, the responsibility he carried in the desert? He had plenty of time to doubt God as he and the Israelites wandered forty years. 

Trekking up Mount Sinai to God’s cloud of glory, he probably fought feelings of uncertainty about God with the assurance he knew about His Deliverer. With intentional trust, Moses positioned his eyes on the Lord. He experienced God's peaceful presence within the cloud of glory. 

Are you battling feelings of fear and doubt? Do you feel as though you are confined by storm clouds? Seek the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Allow His Son Jesus Christ to deliver you from worry and uncertainty. Enter into His presence and find joy. Receive His peace. 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

[Jesus Appears to the Disciples] While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36 (NIV)

And now receive God’s blessing, given for you as it was to the Israelites:

“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 
‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

“So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:23-27 (NIV)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pain and Pleasure


In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB)


Oh the pain of it all. Words uttered in exasperation over life situations. Sometimes I feel as though I could shout them on a daily basis. 

The Israelites possibly proclaimed similar words as slaves in Egypt. Yet in the midst of their painful experiences, God was working to free them from their resistant foe. The Lord had explained to Moses the last of ten plagues that would severely affect the Egyptians and change Pharaoh’s heart. His instructions for the Israelites were to prepare a lamb to eat, along with bread and bitter herbs. The lamb’s blood was to be smeared over their doorway as protection from the angel of death. They were to be dressed and ready to leave Egypt while eating their meal in haste (Exodus 12).

Because of the urgency to leave, the bread was made without yeast. There would be no time for the bread to rise. Made only of flour and water, this unleavened flat bread would provide quick sustenance. It was to become a significant part of the memorial meal called the Lord’s Passover.  

Matzah is the name given to this bread and it is rich in meaning. It represents suffering, freedom, and faith. When eating matzah during Passover, the suffering of slavery is remembered while the recollection of newfound freedom is celebrated. All made possible because of a God who is able to do anything. Praise our faithful God! 

Suffering and freedom, pain and pleasure—even though opposites, these experiences generally go hand in hand. A step of faith links them. Faith in a God who supplies our needs. Trust in a God who knows our situations. Belief in a God who walks with us, even if in a valley of the shadow of death. Clinging to the Lord God in faith makes a distressing situation bearable. 

Over the last fourteen years, I have come to completely trust my Faithful Friend. I’ve experienced the pain and suffering of aging parents. I’ve encountered the agony of their deaths as their souls walked into heavenly freedom. I’ve lived a daily heartache for years with a prodigal child and made a joyful noise when she returned. I’ve walked down two wedding aisles, happily supporting both my son and daughter as they married the spouses God provided them. And the piece de resistance—the births of our two wonderful grandchildren. I was able to enjoy life’s pleasures because the Lord strengthened me through the pain. Oh the pain and pleasure of it all. 

Bittersweet happenings—bitter pain combined with sweet pleasure. Two sides of the same coin joined by faith. Faith in a God who never leaves us. He is the God who came to earth to live with us. He is Jesus Christ who experienced the excruciating pain of death for the pleasure of offering salvation to the world. He is the Holy Spirit who lives in us when we believe in Him. 

Jesus understands our pain and pleasure because He experienced both. He came to earth to demonstrate how to live through it all as He did. Trust Him as He takes you from suffering into freedom. He is able cause He is faithful.



You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. 
Psalm 16:11 (NASB)