Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bless Him for His Benefits


Before we expect to receive any blessings from God, we should bless Him! We do that by acknowledging His majesty and splendor, by praising His holy Name. Our prayers should begin with adoration for our Mighty God and our days should commence with gratefulness to Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. Let’s get started.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD while I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:1-2 (NASB)

Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming. Psalm 147:1 (NASB)

God loves our praises and He is blessed by our devotion. Yet our worship, even all that is within us, doesn’t compare to His blessings poured out on us. Read Psalm 103:1-5 below. We began looking at this psalm last week.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
(NASB)

Wow, if we think about all that God does for us, we truly do not have time for doubt and gloom. Our faces should be beaming with the light of our loving Father God. Let’s remember right now all of His benefits with references from His holy Word. And if you can’t put a check by God’s benefits, then wait patiently, trusting Him until He fulfills all His promises to you. He will do it!

1) He pardons all my iniquities! He forgives and releases me from sin.
  • Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 2 Chronicles 30:18-20 (NIV)
  • All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
    for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
    For the sake of your name, O LORD,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.
    Psalm 25:10-11 (NIV)
  • Seek the LORD while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
    Let the wicked forsake his way
    and the evil man his thoughts.
    Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
    Isaiah 55:6-7 (NIV)
2) He heals all my diseases! He makes me well and restores me.
  • ...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
  • He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
    Psalm 147:3 (NIV)
  • Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed;
    save me and I will be saved,
    for you are the one I praise.
    Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)
3) He redeems my life from the pit! He bought me with His blood that I might have eternal salvation.
  • “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. Exodus 6:6 (NIV)
  • But God will redeem my life from the grave;
    he will surely take me to himself.
    Psalm 49:15 (NIV)
  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:13 (NIV)
4) He crowns me with lovingkindness and compassion! His royal emblem is upon my head.
  • He took the crown from the head of their king—its weight was a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones—and it was placed on David’s head. 2 Samuel 12:30 (NIV)
  • ...and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. Matthew 27:29 (NIV)
  • Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 (NIV)
  • I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Revelation 14:14 (NIV)
  • I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Revelation 3:11 (NIV)
5) He satisfies me with good things and renews my strength. Because of Him, I am content.
  • That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
  • I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
  • Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
Wow again! What a list of benefits from an awesome God who deserves our blessings. Now grab your Bibles, finish reading Psalm 103, and bless the Lord with all of your soul!

Amen. Praise the Lord!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Benefits of Faith


I recently watched a video of an eagle soaring up in the sky on a beautiful sunny day. He effortlessly took flight and gracefully glided over a calm ocean. What an inspiring image of confidence!


In direct contrast, as I contemplated the struggles of fellow Christians, I imagined a person sinking in a turbulent sea of violent waves. With chaos all around, it appeared the end of life approached until the drowning individual looked up and the Son’s rays touched her. She kept her eyes on her Savior, trusting Him completely.


Remembering the vision of the confident nature of the eagle in flight, I thought of how we must look as we walk in the conviction of our faith. Our lives should display total trust in our Savior Jesus Christ, no matter what is happening around us. The strength that exuded from the sight of the eagle’s flight caused me to remember a Scripture verse from Isaiah 40:21-31 (below are only verses 27-31).

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
(NASB)
Striving and struggling creates chaos and confusion, which in turn, causes exhaustion. Life seems dreary and we become weary. Depression tries to take hold as we desire to just sleep our existence away. Satan and his minions gain ground as one less person stands up and fights for the cause of Christ. Is that the way a Christian is meant to live? Where is the faith that we once had? How do we persevere joyfully through the trials of life?
We must choose to believe, even with only a little faith, and obey God. By His Word He will see us through our circumstances. Hear what God has to say to us:
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:14-20 (NIV)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)

Continue reading about the faith of all the ancients in chapter 11 of Hebrews. God certainly renewed their strength like that of youths as they walked to the end of their lives, some receiving the benefits of faith while others hoped to see it eternally. All of the ancient leaders in the Bible struggled as we do today, yet they chose to obey the faithful God even among sorrowful circumstances. It’s a choice we too should make.

Together let’s give praise with a psalm of David to God for all His benefits of a faith obeyed.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NASB)
Please read all of Psalm 103 and “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), “obeying the voice of His Word...doing His will” (Psalm 103:20-21). Stay tuned for more benefits of faith next week.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Holding Hands with Daddy God


Picture a small child clinging to her daddy’s hand while crossing a busy street. Cars zooming by in both directions, exceeding the speed limit, create risks for this dad and his daughter. But she fears nothing! She’s walking beside her daddy who loves and protects her. He’s holding her hands and she trusts him.



Now picture yourself clutching God’s Hand with dangers coming at you from all sides. Menacing thoughts even attack you from your own mind. There appears to be no safe place; everything seems to be against you. But you’re walking beside your Daddy God who loves and protects you. He’s holding your hand and you trust Him!

Hear your Father God speaking to you:

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.
“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Isaiah 41:10-13 (NIV)
Thank you, Jesus, for walking with us through life’s many toils and troubles. We will trust you as we journey on, holding your Hand! AMEN.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

STRIVING


Boys and girls enter the classroom and settle in the chairs around the table. The third-graders are excited to see each other once a week at Sunday School as they don’t all attend the same elementary school. The teacher begins the hour bowing her head in prayer and the children follow her lead. As she concludes with an AMEN, she asks, “Who would like to read our Scripture lesson for today?” One little girl’s hand shot up. “Thank you, Debbie. Would you read Matthew 6:25-34?” the Sunday School teacher said. Debbie walks to the front of the class carrying the Bible her grandmother gave her and begins reading the verses. The words resonate within her soul.

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

I remember reading that Bible passage even though 40ish years have passed. Vaguely do I recall the setting, but the words of Scripture remained in my memory. Every time I read or hear the words, I’m taken back to a Sunday School room in a church in North Carolina. Those words from Matthew awaken images, memories, and emotions within me; they truly resonate within my soul. I believe God knew that I would need to learn the lesson from that passage over and over again.

Jesus taught these words to a large group of followers during His Sermon on the Mount. I’m sure many people needed to hear and understand His words just as we do today. Repeatedly Jesus instructs His listeners not to worry. Meditate on those words from different versions of Scripture:

NIV, NASB, NKJV - do not worry
The Message - don’t fuss
KJV - take no thought
ESV, YLT - do not be anxious

Recently I listened as this Scripture was read at a Bible study and I continually heard the words “do not worry.” Instead of the word ‘worry,’ I sensed the word ‘striving’ and visualized a struggle. Read the synonyms of strive: try (hard), attempt, endeavor, aim, venture, make an effort, exert oneself, do one's best, do all one can, do one's utmost, labor, work; struggle, fight, battle, combat; campaign, crusade.

What are we striving for or against and why? Do we want a better job or a bigger house? Are we unhappy because our spouse doesn’t meet all our needs? Are we disappointed because our children aren’t living like we think they should? Does the future alarm us or death fill us with fear? Are we so worried about tomorrow that we fail to live for today? Now that is striving and it depletes our energy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our demeanor negatively changes and we become discouraging instead of encouraging.

God’s heart must truly be saddened by our striving. He has some choice words to declare to us about our struggle. He says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I felt drawn to this specific verse as I labored in vain this week. I opened my New American Standard Bible, turned to Psalm 46:10, and heard this command from the Lord, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Cease striving? Really? Is that what being still is all about? Obviously God used two Scripture passages to speak to me this week and He said, “DO NOT WORRY; CEASE STRIVING!” Debbie needs to continue reading God’s Word until it undoubtedly resonates within her soul.

Are you striving for or against something? Reread Matthew 6:25-34 and let go of your worry. Read all of Psalm 46 and place your complete trust in Jesus. Make Him your shelter and fortress. From the powerful words in Psalm 46, Martin Luther wrote the formidable song “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Locate a copy of that hymn, sing it to the Lord, and allow it to resonate within your soul. If your heart truly trusts in Jesus, then your striving wiil cease, and you will KNOW that He is God over all things!