Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Cross

What are you carrying on your shoulders? No, I’m not asking what you are physically carrying. Think in spiritual terms. What is it that you’re holding onto? Are there any feelings or emotions that are bearing down on your soul? Is there anything you are carrying that is weighing you down? 
Life presents us with many challenges and sometimes the greatest are with the people around us. Some relationships may be a blessing while others produce continued dispute. Situations may occur in certain relationships that create feelings of anger, bitterness, hatred, and unforgiveness. Sometimes those negative reactions take root within a heart before it’s realized. 
Take a moment to consider your life and the people involved. Is everything running as smoothly as a well-oiled machine or are there surface scatches, damaged parts, maybe even frayed wiring? Are you so hurt that you operate your life by simply going through the motions? Have you held on to a negative emotion for so long that you’ve failed to recognize its force in your life?  If you are carrying anything other than the cross of Christ, you are weighed down and overburdened. 
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)  

Jesus went to the cross carrying all of our burdens and sins. Can you imagine how grueling that was? We might be able to slightly comprehend carrying someone else’s burden, but I don’t believe we can even begin to understand the love it takes to shoulder everyone’s sins and burdens while dying on a cross. Yet Jesus’ love for God’s creation and His faithfulness to the Father’s plan secured the victory over sins, burdens, even death. Therefore, all we need to do is lay down the troubles we carry and exchange them for the cross of Christ. That cross bridges the gap between our relationship with God and our relationship with His people. When we’ve accepted the work of Christ’s cross in our own lives, we are set free to powerfully lift it high for all others to see, and God’s glory fills the earth.
Below is a hymn that captured my heart many years ago. It was a song we sang frequently in the Lutheran church. Allow the words to steep in your mind until they have saturated your soul. As you repeat the words, concentrate on the cross and the freedom it offers. If you have completely accepted Jesus, your burden-bearer, and received His rest, then shoulder that cross and lift it high for all those around you to see.

Lift High The Cross
Words: George W. Kitchin (1827-1912); Modified by Michael R. Newbolt, 1916.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 1. Come, brethren, follow where our Captain trod, our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 2. Led on their way by this triumphant sign, The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 3. Each newborn servant of the Crucified bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 4. This is the sign which Satan's legions fear and angels veil their faces to revere.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 5. Saved by this Cross whereon their Lord was slain, the sons of Adam their lost home regain.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 6. From north and south, from east and west they raise in growing unison their songs of praise.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 7. O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree, as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 8. So shall our song of triumph ever be: Praise to the Crucified for victory. 
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 9. Let every race and every language tell of Him who saves our souls from death and hell. 
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 10.From farthest regions let their homage bring, and on His Cross adore their Savior King. 
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 11.Set up Thy throne, that earth's despair may cease beneath the shadow of its healing peace. 
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name. 12.For Thy blest Cross which doth for all atone creation's praises rise before Thy throne.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

As MPs, we are a group committed to praying for our children and families. We want to see straying children return to God and those that have not strayed to continue growing in their faith. Our desire is for families to be united and serving God. But do we pray for each other as believing Christians to be transformed from self-centeredness to God-centeredness? Paul did.
The apostle Paul prayed for the faithful saints in Ephesus to be radically changed, to be transformed in their relationship with God in Christ Jesus. Notice he prayed for the FAITHFUL saints of Ephesus. Why would he pray for those faithful people? Weren’t they already doing good? Probably, but he wanted them to become more God-centered. 
Paul writes in Ephesians 1 about how God the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Through the blood of Christ Jesus believers have redemption and forgiveness of sins. Through Christ Jesus believers have obtained an inheritance with Him, filled with the grace of God. Believers are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance on the day of redemption, and it’s all for God’s glory! Open your Bibles to Ephesians 1:1-14 and read about these spiritual blessings that God pours into believers in Jesus Christ. Then read below the rest of the chapter.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  Ephesians 1:15-23 (NKJV)
Whenever you see the word “therefore,” take note; something is to follow. It’s like a bridge that we must cross to get to the other side. Some words that substitute for therefore are consequently, so, as a result, for that reason. 
Paul tells the Ephesians that as a result of their faith in the Lord Jesus, he gives thanks for them and prays that God will reveal more of Himself to them. He continues his prayer, desiring for the eyes of their hearts to see God’s glorious visions and that they will understand the absolute power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
These verses contain a powerful prayer and it’s one that we should pray for each other. We as MPs want to see God’s blessings in the lives of our children, but maybe we should first pray for the explosion of God’s power into each other as believers who are parents. God blessed us with these magnificent spiritual blessings, THEREFORE, we should pray that we increase in our understanding of the riches of His glory given through Christ Jesus. We should pray that we will be transformed from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.
Together let’s commit to pray Ephesians 1:15-23 for each other and watch the power of God explode in each other’s lives as we realize “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:23 (NIV) When we’ve prayed those words from Scripture, we will truly believe that our children are in good Hands. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Abiding in Worship

Mary searched for Jesus at the tomb where He had been buried. In her weeping, she heard Him call her by name. She turned her full attention to Him and answered, “Rabboni!” (meaning Teacher). Then she ran to tell His disciples as He instructed her to do.

Another Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His word. Instead of busying herself with serving like her sister Martha, Mary settled on the worship of Jesus. Her eyes were fixed on the Lord as she quietly abided in His presence.

Are you a “Mary” seeking and abiding in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ? Can you recite with conviction the words that likely resonated in the hearts of these two women? Hear with your heart the words of the psalmist:

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house,
At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.
O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes;
Make Your way straight before me.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.
Psalm 5:1-3, 7-8, 11-12 (NASB)
If you’ve been searching for the truth, which is Jesus Christ, I pray that you’ll soon find Him and recognize Him as He calls your name. If you’ve known Him for a while, but the busyness of life has engulfed you, I pray that you will hear Him say, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)
Make time daily to abide in the Lord’s presence. You don’t need to strive to serve Him in glorious ways by doing more for Him. His desire for you is to be more with Him. In John 15, Jesus pleads for an abiding relationship with His disciples, which includes us. If we stay connected to the Vine (Jesus), remaining steadfast in a relationship with Him, we’ll live an abundant life of service with our Lord. We’ll be productive fruit bearers for Christ. But first settle in and abide DAILY!
As I sat in the Lord’s presence this morning, an old hymn came to mind and I remembered how important our relationship is. I pray it will bless you as you abide with Him. 

MORE LOVE TO THEE by Elizabeth Prentiss
More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee.
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best.
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection Sunday

Have you ever felt unwanted or unloved? Have you ever felt shame, humiliation, and embarressment? Have you ever felt ashamed of some wrong you committed, of something you said or did that hurt someone, of your own action or reaction that seemed obviously ridiculous to others?

Have you felt the pain of separation by death, divorce, or just plain stubbornness? Have you felt hurt in such a way that you thought your heart would burst out of your chest while your gut agitated within you? Have you ever felt the turmoil of a decision made alone without the support of a loved one?

If you’ve ever felt any or all of the above mentioned anxieties or even an angst unrevealed to anyone else, then you are completely human and totally loved by God! Can you hear Him call you by name amidst the agony? He’s saying, “your name, come as you are and trade your unworthiness for My righteousness. I paid the price on the cross for you; now come live a resurrected life with Me.”

Today Christ displayed His love for unworthy me in the way of names. He sat me beside a man in church who had the same name as our two week old grandson (it’s not a common name and only God could orchestrate such a positioning in a church full of Easter church goers). With the mention of our grandson’s name, I remembered the new life I have in Christ. Then as the pastor read Scripture verses about Mary weeping at Jesus’ tomb, a baby in the church cried and the dad began strolling the baby out of the sanctuary. The preacher smilingly said, “Brad, you don’t have to leave.” Ironically that’s my son’s name and recently we had a huge disagreement. With the mention of that name, God reminded me of forgiveness. As I wept, I could hear Jesus saying to me, “Debbie, why are you crying? I am resurrected and right here beside you, offering you new life and forgiveness. Will you accept it?”

Is Jesus offering you a resurrection in your life? Will you receive His offering? Will you offer your pain as a sacrifice to Him? That’s the exchange He wants; your suffering for His glory. He is right there beside you. Can you hear Him calling your name? What will be your answer?

Reflect on the weeping woman at the tomb this week from John 20:10-16 (below). Hear your Savior Jesus Christ speak your name. Offer Him your tears on His true altar of sacrifice and give Him praise for new life! AMEN (let it be so)!

Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
“Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

The following poem seems appropriate for this week’s post. I wrote it early one morning five years ago while sitting in an amphitheater overlooking Lake Junaluska in the mountains of North Carolina. A big white cross stands above the seating arena and while I gazed up at the cross, a bird landed on the crossbeam. Words poured out of my soul as I studied the scene before me. I pray you know that no matter what is occurring in your life, you can rest on the arm of the Lord Jesus Christ because He is near to you.

Resting on the Arm of the Lord
DDC - 9/16/07

There stands a big white cross overlooking a beautiful lake.
It reminds me of Jesus the Savior who died for everyone’s sake.
Defender of God’s creation, it eases many an ache.
Like the bird who sits upon it, I’m resting on the arm of the Lord.

Images of personal hurt appear visible to my mind’s eye,
As the sun rises over the lake, reflecting earth and sky.
The cross offers assurance that my Father dwells on high.
Like the bird who sits upon it, I’m resting on the arm of the Lord.

We experience many trials throughout the journey of life.
Daily we need to meet with our Lord, giving Him all of our strife.
He shows Himself to be faithful, as a gallant husband to wife.
Like the bird who sits upon the cross, I’m resting on the arm of the Lord.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blessed by Almighty God

Your mercy rains down in showers of grace.
You were forgiving me as shame hid my face.
Your love shines brightly upon this place.
I praise you, Almighty God.

You walked upon this earth just like me.
You died on that cross to set me free.
You’ve unveiled your Word so that I might see.
Thank you, Lord Jesus.

When I’ve needed comfort, You’ve always been there.
When I’ve needed a touch, You’ve sent friends who care.
When I’ve been blessed, You’ve told me to share.
Come, Holy Spirit.

Three persons in One; You’re the great I AM.
You’re guiding and leading; you’re the faithful I AM.
When fear wants to seize me; you’re the peaceful I AM.
You ask me to trust and I reply, “I am.”

DDC 7/22/10