Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cloudy Vision

As we neared Atlanta, I looked out of the small window from my seat in the airplane. I saw nothing but clouds. I had hoped to see God’s beautiful landscape across the horizon, but all I saw were clouds. At times the wing of the plane wasn’t even visible as we sped through the dense white mist. How can the pilot drive this thing? What if we crash? Does the pilot trust his instruments and the guides in the control tower? Are we in good hands?

Immediately I thought of life’s many situations. How can I pay my bills when all I see is debt? How can I get healthy when the doctor keeps finding more cancer? How can I enjoy life when all I do is work? How can I get my book published or have an opportunity to become an actor if all I receive is rejection? Can we look past our cloudy circumstances to a brighter day? Do we trust God with overwhelming situations? Are we in good Hands?

Yes, we were in good hands as we landed safely and yes, we are in good Hands everyday. We serve a Sovereign God who rules supreme over all things. Can we trust Him? You bet we can! He is the faithful God who desires for us to have complete faith in Him. Even though our vision is cloudy, it becomes clear with God as the pilot. Read what Scripture tells us about our faithful God:

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments....” Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV)
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9 (NKJV)
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19 (NKJV)
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. Revelation 19:11 (NKJV)
So if Jesus is called Faithful and True, why does He allow suffering in our lives? Because He’s working on us and those around us. There may be people in our lives that need to see Jesus, and if our reaction to difficult circumstances is praise to an Almighty God, then souls may be saved. Or maybe we’ve got some growing to do—improvement on some personality issues or character flaws—and if we’ve focused on Jesus, we’ll see blessings instead of hardship. We’ll be thankful instead of bitter. We’ll be filled with the hope of God’s glory.
Job is a great example of a man whose vision was not clouded with fear. In one day, he lost all of his children and everything he owned. A disastrous situation surrounded him, a cloudy life enveloped him, yet he gave praise to God. Read his words below from Job 1:21-22 (NASB):
He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

To God be the glory! What trust in a faithful God! Do you have that kind of faith? Do you trust in God no matter what happens in your life? Can you exhibit hope in distressful times? Job could. Again he spoke of his faith in Job 13:15 (NIV):

Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him....

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 71 also was in the middle of a crisis, and he responded like Job. He said in vs.14 (NIV):

But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
God’s desire for us is to worship Him in spirit, truth, (John 4:23) and crisis. He blesses those who can look beyond the clouds and see Him. And in the midst of the misty clouds, God receives glory as people begin to visualize His power. Then the clouds dispel and His light shines brightly on the things of earth. As Thomas Benton Brooks states: HOPE CAN SEE HEAVEN THROUGH THE THICKEST CLOUDS.

Can you see past the clouds? Do you believe that you are in good Hands? If not, then begin praising Him and you will be able to see through the clouds into the face of your God. He loves you. He’s got you in His Hands!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Delight and Discipline

Does God look at you with delight or does He plan discipline? The answer is yes and yes. The Sovereign God loves His creation and Father God disciplines His children.

We enjoy the thoughts of a God who loves us, a God who delights in us. A parent understands the love and delight over a child. But do we truly understand how much God loves us? Before you answer that question, remember that He is God and anything He does surpasses anything we do, including love. 1 John 3:1 (NIV) tells us so:

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

Concentrate on the synonyms for the word lavish: give freely to, spend generously on, bestow on, heap on, shower with. Now pay attention to the synonyms for delight: take pleasure in, revel in, luxuriate in, wallow in, glory in, adore, love, relish. Can’t you just picture yourself engulfed in a mountain of love from the Heavenly Father? The love He sheds on us is indeed more than we can even imagine! Read below His own words of delight to His people.

Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 10:15 (NASB)

The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 10:15 (NKJV)
It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married. Isaiah 62:4 (NASB)

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23 (NASB)
...the blameless in their ways are His delight. Proverbs 11:20b (NKJV)

...the prayer of the upright is His delight. Proverbs 15:8b (NKJV)

Yes, the Lord definitely delights in a people that He loves, but His desire for us is righteousness. Notice the two Scriptures above and the words blameless and upright. God is eager for our righteousness; He yearns for us to be holy as He is holy. He sent His Son to die for us so that through Him we might walk upright and blameless. But when we aren’t walking with Him daily, we cause Him heartache with our offenses. That’s when His discipline is deserved.

How many times have our own children broken our hearts with their disobedience? They’ve needed our discipline and out of love we’ve corrected them. Imagine the heart of our Heavenly Father when He sees our disobedience. It pains Him but He must discipline us to get our attention so that our lives can produce righteous fruit that glorifies Him. Read below His words of discipline, but don’t be discouraged; they’re cloaked in love!

He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Prov. 13:24 (NASB)

“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. Job 5:17 (NASB)
But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:32 (NASB)

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Heb. 12:4-11 (NASB)

Discipline is for our own good and God’s glory! It produces good fruit, beautiful vessels, a faithful flock, a cherished bride, a praiseworthy temple; simply put --- grace-filled children of a revered God. How delighted God is in the people He loves!

Does God look at you with delight or does He plan discipline? The answer is yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV) Whatever it takes, Lord, may my life bring You glory!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Glorify God in Distress

Taking a walk along a beautiful mountainous area, you suddenly notice an irritating sensation in your left shoe. You try to ignore it but the feeling grows stronger. With every step, your foot begins to hurt until you just can’t go any further. You find a stump to sit on and take off your shoe. You discover a tiny pebble that’s been the source of your annoyance for the last 50 yards. How could such a small object be so irritating?

Or how about when you were driving to the grocery store and suddenly you felt a pain in your eye. It becomes so annoying that you can’t hold your eye open to drive any further so you pull over. Looking in the rearview mirror you see an eyelash in your eye. Once it’s out, you’re back on your way to the store. How could that tiny hair-like thing be so annoying?

Life’s irritations are as prevalent as mud during a rainy winter. You step in it as you’re walking into work. You discover it all over your carpet after you’ve returned home and gone upstairs to change your clothes. Your dogs splash in it when you let them out to potty. It’s always there and it becomes more bothersome by the minute, by the hour, by the day, month, or even a year. Your frustration grows and grows until you’re ready to kick and scream. What do you do with that aggravation?

The answer to irritants is thanksgiving. What? Say that again. Thanksgiving? I’m not thankful for problems. I’m not thankful that nothing seems to go right at work. I’m not thankful that my business is going under. I’m not thankful that I missed a step, causing me to fall and sprain my ankle. I’m not thankful that the housing market has slowed, making it impossible for me to buy my dream home. I’m not thankful that I don’t have enough money to pay my bills. I’m not thankful that a family member has cancer or that another family member has died. I’m not thankful that my child has made poor choices and now our lives are torn apart. I’m not thankful that one of my children is so selfish that he doesn’t seem to care about the family who raised him and gave him his name. “Really, God! You want me to be thankful!” I cry out.

“That’s right, my child!” He replies. “It’s all for My glory. When you’re focused on Me and what I’m doing in this world, your response to your own needs will shine My light for others to see My glory.”

WOW! When we realize the significance of our reactions to problems, we may feel very petty, expecially if someone has seen or heard our negative response. Or we may feel a sense of honor if we chose to glorify God’s name in our pain.

Have you had a chance to glorify the name of the Lord? You are His child and His reputation rests upon your shoulders. Have you suffered in His Name or have you been self-absorbed? You are part of the family of God and you must represent the family well. If God can’t rely on you to deal with the irritants in your life by glorifying His Name, how can He trust you with the mountains that He has planned for your future?

God’s servant, Paul, had many irritants in His life. Some were small and others were enormous. But in all things He gave glory to God, bringing honor to His Name. Read below how Paul’s life was all about Jesus.

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel... Philippians 1:12-27 (NIV)

Is your life all about Jesus or yourself? Do others see God working in your life through your pain or do they hear your complaints? Does the light of Christ shine from your heart for others to see the way to salvation or have your actions darkened the path to His glory? Take a step back and consider your life and its aggravations. How have you handled them?

Now remember Christ and reflect on His life. How did He handle life’s daily challenges? John 5:30 tells us from Jesus’ own words, “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” Those are “big shoes to fill” but we can do it with God’s help. Paul tell us so in Philippians 4:13 (NIV)...I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Paul survived life’s distresses because Christ gave him strength. He’ll do the same for you. Your are part of God’s family. He is there to support you; He can be trusted. Rely on Him. The Christian family depends on you.