Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Supernatural Friendship

Intimacy is defined as close familiarity or friendship. God desires that kind of relationship with us, but He allows us to choose just how close we want to be with Him. How familiar are you with God? What type of friendship do you have with the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings?
Most of the world intellectually knows of God, but how many people know Him affectionately? Head knowledge supplies the ability to know God exists and that He created the heavens and the earth. Through the reading of His Word we discover how He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to die for us in order to save us from our sins and grant us eternal life with Him. But it’s only through the study of His Word that we come to actually realize just how much He loves us! Continually searching the Word of God bestows a heart knowledge about the God of the universe that results in familiarity and friendship. The love language of our relationship with God develops through prayer. As we study and pray, affection and warmth for our Savior God seeps into our souls and we are endowed with the confidence of a lasting relationship. 
Today is Pentecost! Together with all the saints we celebrate the initial coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Christ. The Heavenly Father first sent the Holy Spirit fifty days after Jesus ascended into heaven. On the day of His ascension, Jesus said to His disciples, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49 (NASB) 
Scripture tells us in Acts 1:13-14 how obedient the disciples were to Jesus’ command: When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.  Acts 1:13-14 (NASB)
What did the disciples devote themselves to doing? God’s Word states that they were devoted to constant prayer. They were developing a relationship with the God who loved them enough to die for them. The language of prayer enabled them to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. When Pentecost happened, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:2-4 states that suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Power descended upon followers of Jesus, people began to speak in other tongues, Peter began to preach, three thousand souls were saved, and the Church of Christ was established. Praise God!
So what do we do with the knowledge of the power of the Holy Spirit? We devote ourselves to the study of the Word of God and to prayer, seeking the One who sacrificed His life so that we may live eternally with Him. We allow His Spirit to imbue us with power from above so that more people can experience a life lived with Christ. Thank you, Jesus!
Rain down on us, King of Kings, and let the power of Your reign fill us with Your strength.
You are holy, Lord of Lords, and You are worthy of our praise as we honor You today.
We are Your people, Lord God, and You are a Father to Your people, nurturing us in love.
As You delight in us, Friend of sinners, may we delight in forgiveness that covers us with grace.
In our deepening relationship, Jesus, bless us with Your mercy as it flows through us to others. 
For Your glory, Heavenly Father, we offer our service of humility. Come, Holy Spirit! AMEN.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Tempest of Mercy

The clouds gather, dark and threatening. The wind stirs all around while the trees bend and sway. In the distance a rumble is heard. As the noise gets louder, lightning bolts flash across the sky. More claps of thunder and the rain descends. Pelting down upon earth, the water refreshes the dry ground. AHHH! Thank you, God, for rain!
Darkness descends and the clouds seem to linger. A maelstrom of discouragement and disappoint rushes through the house. Grumbling is heard and expressed. As it gets louder, anger explodes. Someone suddenly falls to her knees as tears drop to the floor. Pain-relieving reassurance invades her parched soul, energizing her body. AHHHH! Thank you, God, for Your great mercy!
Have you ever felt the storm of the negative d’s hit your household: discouragement, disappointment, dismay, differences, disputes, disapproval, defiance, dissent, depression, despair? Then take delight in the Lord because His mercy is bigger than all those trappings! Begin living in the land of the “therefores”!
Read 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 below and imagine how many d’s Paul experienced, or did he?
Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.  (NASB)
Isn’t he the one who stated the following? We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed!  2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NKJV) Paul had literally seen the mercy of God descend upon him at the moment of his conversion, therefore, he completely believed in the grace of God and he desired for others to live in God’s mercy. Read more of the confidence he had in the power of God through Jesus. 
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart........But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:1, 13-18 (NASB)
Still not convinced that God’s mercy is bigger than all your problems? Think about Adam and Eve after their disgrace; God promised a righteous seed would spring forth (Gen. 3:15). Think about Noah and how God preserved his family from destruction (Gen. 7-8). Think about the Israelites and how God saved them from the Egyptians and death (Ex. 14). Think about David and the mercy God poured out on him after he committed adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11). Think about Jesus, that righteous seed promised to Adam and Eve, and how He suffered death on a cross so that the world, through belief in Him, could experience His kingdom on earth and live eternally (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
If you are still unsure about God’s great grace, get on your knees and pray the prayer that Daniel prayed for the Israelites captive in Babylon. He pleaded for mercy from a gracious God. He prayed that God would shine His light on their desolations (their temple, their city, and themselves). He prayed to a compassionate God for forgiveness and restoration. Read Daniel 9:1-19; below is only a portion from verses 15-19 (NASB).
“And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked. O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” (NKJV)
Therefore, take delight in the Word of God (Ps. 119:143) even though difficulty may surround you. Soak up the rain of God’s righteousness as it states in Hosea 10:12. (NKJV).
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
Hear Him say to you the words from Isaiah 62:1-5 (NASB).
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet,
Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness,
And her salvation like a torch that is burning.
The nations will see your righteousness,
And all kings your glory;
And you will be called by a new name
Which the mouth of the Lord will designate.
You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
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.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.
As the Lord rejoicefully rains down His righteousness on your life, give Him thanks for His outpouring of mercy and praise Him with the words of David. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23:6 (NKJV)  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all you mothers have had a wonderful day! I’m lifting you all up to the Lord with a prayer that I wrote many years ago. May God bless you with His love and peace!
                       A Prayer
Lord, help me to be a formidable force,
One who will act for Thee.
One who fights the way you fought
With compassionate words, gracious and free.
Lord, help me to be a patient person, 
One who will endure with ease.
One who awaits tender times
With helpful, perservering peace.
Lord, help me to be a wise woman, 
One who knows you and reveres. 
One who reads, studies, and prays 
With quiet lips and open ears.
Lord, help me to be a forgiving friend,
One who ceases to blame.
One who tries to forget the wrong
Of trials that can bring shame.
Lord, help me to be a loving lady,
One who brings good cheer. 
One who will share the sunshine
With those that are and aren’t dear.
Lord, help me to better personify You,
With wisdom, patience, and grace.
Loving and forgiving with all Your strength
Until we come face to face!
DDC - January 1987
Now as our special day comes to a close, may we together as mothers focus on the following prayer for our children and families.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:14-21(NKJV)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lift High the Cross

Feet thunder across an open field. Men, dressed in armor from head to toe and fighting for a cause, oppose the enemy. One man in the middle of the front line carries the standard, a flag embossed with an emblem. He spikes it into the ground on a hill while a trumpet is sounded. That man is the standard bearer who sets the course and communicates the rally cry. 
The standard bearer is an outstanding representative of his movement or organization. He carries a banner bearing the emblem that enables those who look upon it to recognize his group. In battle he utters the rallying cry to call his troops to fight. He is the leader that raises the standard and his warriors follow.
Moses, following God’s lead, was a type of standard bearer as he led the Israelites out of Egypt. They had crossed the Red Sea, gaining a major victory over their enemies. Yet as time went on, they seemed to forget the victory and from where they had fled, almost desiring to go back. Read  below a peculiar story of the complaining Israelites, God and Moses, snakes, and a revolting image (emblem or standard) that gave life. 
They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.  Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV)
If bitten by a snake, the Israelites actually had to gaze up at an image of a bronze snake in order to live; that had to be rather disgusting, but it brought life. Jesus refers to this passage as He speaks with the Pharisee Nicodemus about new life in John 3. Nicodemus wanted to know how one could be born again and Jesus answered with the words below from verses 10-17 (NIV).
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, We speak of what We know, and We testify to what We have seen, but still you people do not accept Our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.
For God so love the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 
Jesus told Nicodemus that just as the bronze snake on a pole gave life to the Israelites, the Son of Man must be lifted up so that all who believed in Him would have eternal life. Jesus was setting the standard for His followers while speaking with Nicodemus. Nicodemus probably didn’t understand all that Jesus explained to him, but in hindsight, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, he should have understood. Here’s an interesting comparison - to the Jews crucifixion was a sign of a curse and just as a bronze snake was revolting to gaze upon, so too would be the sight of the Son of Man on a cross. Yet to look up and believe gave life. Therefore, Jesus became our standard bearer. His cross, the standard, stood spiked into the ground on a hill called Golgatha and He issued the rally cry: that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 
Isaiah 59 tells of the sin that separates us from God and the need for a Redeemer. He comes as a warrior to save those that confess their sins. The Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against the enemies of His people, allowing refuge under God’s leadership (vs. 19). He also makes a covenant with the repentant, promising to be with them for generations (vs.21). Praise God for the promises He gives us, our children, and our grandchildren!
As God put on His holy armor to justly redeem His people (Isaiah 59:15-17), we too should clothe ourselves with the armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-18) and fight the good fight of faith, laying hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12). As we follow the example of our Standard Bearer, standing firm on the Word of God, we lift high the cross of Christ so that others may gaze upon Him and live.
Pass through, pass through the gates!
    Prepare the way for the people.
Build up, build up the highway!
    Remove the stones.
Raise a banner for the nations.
The Lord has made proclamation
    to the ends of the earth:
“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
    ‘See, your Savior comes!
See, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense accompanies him.’”

They will be called the Holy People,
    the Redeemed of the Lord;
and you will be called Sought After,
    the City No Longer Deserted.  
Isaiah 62:10-12 (NIV)