Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Enter His Courts with Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving jump-starts the Christmas holidays. Black Friday offers a chance to begin and/or finish buying gifts for your loved ones. The entire week of Thanksgiving seems to get everything set to celebrate Christmas.
Is Thanksgiving lost in Christmas preparations? Do we Americans get caught up in buying gifts on sale rather than giving thanks for blessings already given? As believers in Christ, we are extravagantly blessed. Are we thankful?
Let the day of giving thanks jump-start a season of gratitude. (We’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving, but it’s never too late to be grateful.) Instead of looking for more things to possess, see with eyes of faith a King who comes to save. Daily bow in humility before Him with thanks. Give your Lord and Savior an undivided heart of praise.
Worship the Lord with celebration:
O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. Psalm 95:1-2 (NASB)

Psalm 100 (KJV)
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Sing praises to the Lord with this ancient hymn:
Come, Ye Thankful People Come by George J. Elvey
1. Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come
Raise the song of harvest home.

2. All the world is God's own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

3. For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day
All offenses purge away;
Give His angels charge at last
In the fire the tares to cast,
But the fruitful ears to store
In His garner evermore.

4. Even so, Lord, quickly come,
To Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin;
There, forever purified,
In Thy presence to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels, come
Raise the glorious harvest home.

Now may the God of your salvation bless you with peace as you give Him your thanks and praise.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16 (NASB)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Remember When...

Sitting around an oval table in the funeral home, we discussed burial plans for Dad. My family, together with the funeral director, made arrangements forced upon us because of death. Breaking the somber mood, we began to recall past experiences with Dad. “Remember when....,” somebody said, and the memories rushed in. Some recollections made us laugh and others made us cry. We determined to remember only the good times with Dad and we began to be thankful for his life.

Memories are powerful; they give rise to strength or despair. Throughout the Bible, God commands His people to remember and forget. He yearns for us to recall His many acts of faithfulness and abandon brooding over our failures. Remembering God’s acts builds our faith while remembering our sins brings us despair. This is the spiritual battle that takes place in our mind. Therefore we should put on the helmet of salvation and....demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Read the following Scriptures and fight that spiritual battle of the mind with God’s own words.
-----Be forgetful...
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” Isaiah 43:18 (NIV)

Paul said, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead...” Philippians 3:13 (NIV)
-----Be mindful and remember...
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
Isaiah 46:9 (NIV)
But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. Deuteronomy 7:18 (NIV)
...These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. Joshua 4:7 (NIV)
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. Deuteronomy 15:15 (NIV)
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7 (NKJV)
I remember Your name in the night, O LORD,
And I keep Your law.
Psalm 119:55 (NKJV)
Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel... 2 Timothy 2:8 (NKJV)
Remember the acts of your Lord and Savior as you fellowship this Thanksgiving. Whether with family and friends or alone, pause and recall your blessings, giving the Lord thanks for His provision. Together, as prayer partners, let’s forget our past mistakes and remember God’s miracles in our lives. Our faith will be encouraged as we look forward to the mighty acts of God in our lives and those of our loved ones. Remember the good times with your Daddy God and give Him thanks and praise!
Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.
1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (NKJV)
Then listen to Chris Tomlin’s “I Lift My Hands” and let your faith arise.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

God's Miracles

I am a visual learner and like most people I learn through experience. Almost everything I write about comes from personal experiences and today is no different. God is using occurrences in my life to teach me how to live for Him and I believe He desires for me to convey them to you. So here goes....

After waking up this morning to prepare to write for the MP blog, I realized that I left my Bible and my journal at school where I work. On Fridays I attend FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and I take my Bible and journal with me. Sometimes as the students worship, I write down thoughts and Scripture verses that God gives me. Leaving work, I failed to pick up my bag that contained both resources. As I sat down with my computer today, after discovering I left those things at school, I felt completely lost for a moment. “What do I do now, God?” I asked. Thank goodness I have several Bibles and grabbing one, I opened it in the middle and began praying. Gazing down at my Bible, I began reading where it lay open - Psalm 20 (NKJV).

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah
May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose.
We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners!
May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stand upright.
Save, LORD!
May the King answer us when we call.

Why do I doubt God’s faithfulness? He cares for us no matter how small the circumstance. Thanking Him for coming to my rescue, I remembered bigger situations in my life that He’s already handled. As I share them with you, be mindful of God’s working in your life and give Him praise.

In 1994, God healed me after experiencing an extremely serious physical condition. Suffering two days of severe pain in my back and shoulders, doctors finally discovered clots in my lungs and immediately hospitialized me for 10 days with a heparin drip to dissolve the clots. My husband shared with me how critical the situation could have been and how close I came to having a stroke or dying. Meanwhile, God prepared two willing people to share His word with me, one through a phone call and one with a get-well card. They announced these words to me:

For I will restore health to you
And heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD.
Jeremiah 30:17 (NKJV)
And He did - God healed me over time! Praise God!

This past week my mother shared her good news with me. She recently had another surgery to scrape out the cancer in her ureter. Since 2006 she’s probably had no less than 20 procedures to get rid of the cancer. She went back for a follow-up this past week and after 5 years of battling bladder, kidney, and ureter cancer, her doctor told her that her organs look clean. Thank you, Jesus, for answering our prayers!

Not only does God heal physical infirmities, He heals spiritual deficiencies and broken hearts. He loves His people so much that He goes in search of the lost. His forgiveness sets the captives free! Some of us MPs have already experienced that freedom and we pray for others as they continue to faithfully believe His promise for their family and friends. Over time He also heals those who have lost a loved one in death. We serve the God who came to earth to heal so give Him thanks and praise.

Below is the passage that Jesus read in a Nazareth synagogue and after reading it, He declared the fulfillment of that Scripture passage in their presence. (Luke 4:16-21)

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)

After three years of fulfilling His mission, Jesus completed His earthly assignment by shedding His blood on the cross so that we might be healed (in many ways).

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)
...who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)
Reflect on the many ways God has healed you or someone you know. Thank Him for miracles and bless Him for His benefits. Allow Him to fill you with His strength and peace as you wait for His promises to be accomplished.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5 (NKJV)

Thank you, God, for your miracles and increase our faith in Your promises!

Happy Birthday to my youngest sister. I’m praying that you and your husband will receive God’s miracle. Hold on to His promises.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Life's Interruptions

God, what is happening? Why does everything seem to go wrong in my life? How much more can I take? If you’ve ever had that conversation with God, then you’re life has been interrupted. Or has it?

My handy thesaurus gave me insight into the variations of the word ‘interruption’. Here are three sets of words that could replace that word.
  1. cutting in, barging in, intervention, intrusion, butting in
  2. discontinuation, breaking off, suspension, disruption, stopping, halting, cessation
  3. interval, interlude, break, pause, gap, hiatus

From intrusion to disruption to hiatus, the word interruption can have slightly different meanings at various times in our lives. We all enjoy a break or hiatus from the everyday routine; but what about those incidents that strike when life appears to be moving along smoothly. What happens when life throws you a curve, when your normal routine must stop because someone close to you dies? What do you do when a relative needs surgery or regularly battles cancer? What if it’s been raining for days and now the water is covering your basement or a leak occurred under your sink, spilling out onto your kitchen floor? What if your husband decides to leave you and the children or your child rebels and chooses to live an alternate lifestyle? From things that cut into your life to the abrupt halting of the life you knew, interruptions happen many times and in many ways. In fact, they’re so frequent that they really aren’t disruptions, but life itself.

We live in a sinful world. Things go wrong sometimes. Choices made by some people affect others. We readily accept the blessings, but burdens - who wants them? Our world is not perfect yet Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us live out our lives on earth until we reach our eternal home in heaven. He is always available in good times and bad. But do we live as if we believe in His constant presence?

Think about your own situations. How do you handle the interruptions that are part of life? Are you overcome by adverse situations? Do you get upset and worry? I can honestly say that at times I’ve been overcome by worry and fear, and yes, some situations are much worse than others. But read what Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV): Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Practice - did he say practice?...and then we can have peace. I’ve always heard that practice makes perfect, but how do we practice spiritually? We daily read the words of our Heavenly Father, we pray to Him, and we give Him our praises in all situations. Let me help you begin to praise Jesus so that no matter how or when life interrupts you, peace will reign within and around you.
You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:14 (NIV)
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27 (NIV)
For he himself is our peace.... Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
Psalm 61:3 (NIV)
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
Psalm 56:4 (NIV)
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31 (NIV)
I needed this message probably more than any of you. I’ve experienced several of the above examples over the past 10 days, and I’ve struggled posting these words on my blog because of life’s interruptions. It’s been difficult but I’ve tried to practice trust and faith in order for peace to reign over my life. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.....” Philippians 4:13 (NIV). Believe and and obey!