Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, June 26, 2011

BELOVED


Eight pairs of eyes observed for three days one precious little girl with big blue captivating eyes. Each owner of a pair of eyes desired the attention of the lovable blue-eyed child. They coveted her love as much as they yearned to convey their love to her. Devoted parents, delighted grandparents, doting great-grandparents, and an adoring aunt all showered their love on the cuddly toddler. The wonderful weekend overflowed with deep affection for one another, spilling onto the human tie that bound everyone together.

Our family weekend with my granddaughter, Anabelle, embraced love. Even though everyone shared love and enjoyed being together, the focused fondness was directed toward Anabelle. She knew her family adored her and she returned the affection. The expressive love radiated throughout our home. Could love be communicated any more than that?

When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, all eyes were on Him. The Spirit of God descended from heaven in the form of a dove and alighted upon Jesus. A loving voice extended to earth from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Read of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:13-17.)

John baptized the believing remnant of Israel and Jesus joined with them, confirming John’s ministry and fulfilling His Father’s will. It was a plan that God had set in motion after Adam and Eve sinned against Him. Jesus came to earth to execute that plan, trusting and obeying the will of His Father. Love emitted brightly and loudly from heaven to earth upon Jesus. The eyes of Father God beamed with so much love for His Son that all those at the Jordan River heard and felt the affectionate exchange.

As much as we love our families, God loves us more. We are His beloved children and He covets our love as much as He yearns to convey His love to us. The proof of His love rests in the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved son Jesus. He is our example of how we are to love God and His people. Jesus is the tie that binds us together as one loving family.

During the baptism, God declared strongly how much Jesus meant to Him. That beloved Son was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Read of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11.) Jesus passed this period of testing by staying committed to the LOVE that enveloped Him. Nothing Satan did or said took Jesus’ focus off of His Father. Jesus knew God’s eyes were upon Him and, even though He hungered after forty days and nights of fasting, the love of His Father strengthened Him.

Do you feel the Father’s love? Do you know you are His beloved? Did you know you are the apple of His eye (Did you know that the apple of His eye refers to the pupil and that He protects and cares for you just as we try to protect and care for the pupil of our eyes?) Did you know His eyes are upon you and He is watching over you? Are you committed to that kind of love? Are you standing firm in the love of God expressed through His son Jesus? Are you armored up and resolved in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ? Read the Word of God, believing in His love, and when temptation comes, keep your eyes focused on Him so that your answer to all those questions will be “YES” and God will strengthen you!

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:1-2 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16 (NKJV)

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8 (NKJV)
For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For surely I will shake My hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me. Zechariah 2:8-9 (NKJV)
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV)
YES!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Armor Worn with Prayer







It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (NIV)


Belt of Truth -
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 (NIV)

Breastplate of Righteousness -
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

Shoes of the Gospel of Peace -
The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
Shield of Faith -
We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 33:20 (NIV)
Helmet of Salvation -
You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

Sword of the Spirit -
Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Psalm 119:89 (NIV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Prayer


...praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--- Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)

Phew! We’re dressed - finally. Some of those armor pieces were hard to put on and taking up the shield and sword requires some muscle, some spiritual muscle. Now that we’re dressed, what do we do? Clothed in this armor, going nowhere, is like putting on a formal gown and pearls with no place to go. We look rather foolish elegantly hanging out and watching TV.

Putting on the whole armor of God without prayer is comparable to lavishly retreating into seclusion with no objective. There’s really no reason in wearing stylish dress with no purpose, and wearing the armor of God without prayer is useless. Paul urges us in Ephesians to pray using the words all and always. He wants us to be watchful and complete in prayer, praying fully in every respect for all believers with endurance. He even encourages us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” We’ll need to strengthen those spiritual muscles to pray that way. So let’s get to work--- praying!

Reading from The Power of a Praying Church by Stormie Omartian and The Life-Changing Power of Prayer by T. W. Hunt, I have learned that our prayer power collectively begins with us individually. We must choose to be alone with God to grasp the power of prayer, and Jesus is just the person to teach us how to pray. 




Luke 5:16 tells us that Jesus Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed. His power derived from prayer (read Mark 9:14-29). Jesus prayed in the morning - Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35 NIV). He prayed at night - After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone...(Matthew 14:23 NIV). 

He prayed before the crowds on the mountain where He preached - Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish (John 6:11 NIV). 

He prayed in the garden while His disciples slept - Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:39-46 NIV). 

He often prayed alone to His Heavenly Father - Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone (John 6:15 NKJV) and at times He prayed all night - Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12 NKJV). 

He taught His disciples how to pray (read Matthew 6:5-15) using what we call today The Lord’s Prayer. Every decision that Jesus made was preceded by prayer. His life’s work depended on prayer.

If Jesus needed to pray continually, then we humans need to follow His example of constant prayer. He tells us in Luke 18:1 that “we should always pray and not give up”. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:8 that “he desires for men to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting”. And he says to pray for all men - I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV) 

So find a quiet place, learn from your Lord how to pray, and “continue earnestly in prayer” as Colossians 4:2 states. Humble yourself before God, set you heart to understand, and don’t be afraid as a certain man (an angel or Christ) told Daniel in verses 12-13 of chapter 10. Read all of Daniel 10 and be encouraged that your words will be heard. When we continually communicate with Jesus through prayer, we will be able to discern His will for our lives and daily we will be strengthened.

OH....I hear someone knocking. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20 NIV) Go to the door of your heart and let Him in to be your daily guide. You won’t be sorry and you stand to gain everything. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Keep on praying......

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sword of the Spirit


Take.....the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)
Are you dressed and ready for a fight? You should be wearing your belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and helmet, defending yourself. Look out....here’s comes a dart. Watch out behind you...there’s another one. Arrows are flying everywhere. Standing in defensive garb and lifting the shield may work for a time, but we’ve got to strike back. We need an offensive campaign. Grab a sword, hold it flat and parallel to the ground, and let’s advance against our enemy. Here we go....push, charge, ATTACK!!!!
Ephesians 6 mentions only one offensive (as well as defensive) weapon and it is the sword of the spirit. All of the other armor is used to defend and protect against the enemy, but the sword is intended to defeat the enemy and rescue lives. The sword of the spirit is the Bible, the inspired word of God. We must know the word of the Lord if we’re going to confront our enemy, and using the sword will require a close encounter with our opponent. Jesus experienced an upclose and personal engagement with Satan and triumphed. Read the account of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1-11.
Jesus used Scripture as a weapon when Satan tempted Him in the desert. Prior to entering the desert, John the Baptist baptized Jesus and the Father spoke from heaven of His love for His Son. What a mountain top experience that must have been! Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert where He fasted forty days and nights. Imagine how famished He was in the wilderness after those 40 days! Thinking Jesus was at His weakest, Satan emerged to entice and tantalize the Son of God. Three times Jesus wielded His sword, speaking words of truth from Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalm 91:11-12, Deuteronomy 6:16, Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20, and Joshua 24:14. Jesus knew the Word because He always made time for prayer and studying Scripture. He wore the armor of God, fought the good fight of faith, and sent Satan fleeing. He came to rescue lives!
Just like Jesus, we frequently encounter mountain tops and deserts. Are we prepared for the battle? Is the Word of the Lord buried deep within our hearts and minds? Does the armor of God cover us from head to toe? Make time to study Scripture and commit wholeheartedly to the Lord and His commands. Only then can you wield the sword of the spirit and cause Satan to turn tail and run. God spoke to the Israelites through Moses saying, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV) Memorize the following verses so that you can swing the sword of the spirit when temptation comes your way.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands...
Psalm 149:6 (NIV)
When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.
Jeremiah 15:16 (NIV)
For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Luke 21:15 (NIV)
For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [a]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (Amplified Bible)
He (or she) lifts up a banner for the distant nations,
he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Here they come,
swiftly and speedily!
Not one of them grows tired or stumbles,
not one slumbers or sleeps;
not a belt is loosened at the waist,
not a sandal thong is broken.
Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses’ hoofs seem like flint,
their chariot wheels like a whirlwind.
Their roar is like that of the lion,
they roar like young lions;
they growl as they seize their prey
and carry it off with no one to rescue.
Isaiah 5:26-29
Lift up your swords, MPs, and daily prepare for battle....in prayer. We’ve got lives to rescue!