Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Everlasting Thanksgiving

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”  Psalm 122:1 (NASB) I enjoy worshiping my Lord and Savior! Joy pours forth when praising Jesus!
Black Friday: Because only in America, people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have. Shopping is fun and sometimes I think I absolutely need that bargain. How sad when material possessions become a priority.

Most of us have participated in one or both of those occasions at some point in our lives. Which experience truly produces lasting happiness? How can we live a significant life in a country consumed by material goods?

This has been the week of gratitude. Americans are thankful for their blessings on a nationally declared day of thanks—Thanksgiving Day. How about every day of the year? Do we wake up thanking God for His favor upon our lives or do we ask Him for more? Do our praises to an Almighty God rely upon our circumstances or in spite of them?

Maybe you can’t see through the mountain of debt that seems to pile up endlessly or maybe your husband just walked out on you and the family. Maybe your child rebels against everything you say, choosing to dishonor the family and authority they’ve been placed under. Maybe you’ve lost a child, a parent, or a friend to cancer. Are there blessings in those storms? 

Scripture tells us to praise God and keep the faith, no matter what comes our way. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NASB) Our hope is eternal and our praises glorify God. Jesus won the victory on the cross. Give Him praise and thank Him for His many blessings in your life as you stand in your storms. His light will shine upon you and His peace will reign in your heart! Thank you, Jesus!

Read the Scriptures below and know that God is on your side. He will take care of you. Give Him praise!

Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them, “Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and with shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns until you have scattered them abroad, therefore, I will deliver My flock, and they will no longer be a prey; and I will judge between one sheep and another.
“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.
“I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure on their land. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 

They will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” declares the Lord God. “As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God,” declares the Lord God.  Ezekiel 34:20-31 (NASB)
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a level path
Because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would 
           see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord. 
Psalm 27 (NASB)

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing. 
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations. 
Psalm 100 (NASB)

Give God praise every day! Give Him the honor and glory due His holy name! Anchor yourself and your soul on the firm foundation—Jesus, the Rock, who loved you so much that He died for you! Let your constant praises flow to the God who is worthy of thanksgiving. Once your praises begin to ring out in the midst of your circumstances, you will find significance and value in your situation. God’s peace will begin to reign on your life, others will see a difference in you, and our Father in heaven will receive glory for being our infinite and mighty God!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Adoration for the Bridegroom

The bride now wears the name of her bridegroom. They belong to each other. While everyone gathers to celebrate with them, the bridegroom takes her hand and pulls her close as they begin to dance together. His eyes lovingly behold his beloved as she gazes up at him with adoration. It’s an enchanting moment, delighting every eye.

We, the Bride of Christ, have been chosen by our Bridegroom to wear His name. He lovingly poured out His life’s blood to cover us with His righteousness. He stretches forth His Hand in adoration, desiring intimacy, a lifelong dance with us. Do we take His Hand and allow Him to guide us? We look forward to the heavenly life with Him, but here on earth do we accept His guidance with adoration and praise? Do we share intimate moments with Him?

Jesus lived on earth demonstating the intimacy God desires with us. Whenever too much clamor and noise surrounded Him and too many demanding people crowded around Him, Jesus often slipped away by Himself to pray to His Heavenly Father. He needed alone time with God. Scripture tells us so. 

Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.   Matthew 14:22-23 (NASB)
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.  Mark 1:35 (NASB)
But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.   Luke 5:15-16 (NASB)
It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.  Luke 6:12 (NASB)
Jesus worshiped the Father. They shared a close connection, an intimate union. Private prayer with His Father strengthened Him. If our Bridegroom required power from on high through prayer and worship, then we, His beloved Bride, can’t live with anything less than the adoration and praise of His Name.  
Jesus exemplified worship to His disciples and taught them how to pray. They too required strength and power to live in His Name. After His death and resurrection, the disciples waited together in prayer for power from on high. Again Scripture confirms the truth. 
It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”  Luke 11:1 (NASB)
They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.”  Mark 14:32 (NASB)
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)
The early Church continued to grow in intimacy with the Bridegroom through prayer. Paul and the apostles encouraged Christ’s followers to persevere in prayer. The Word confirms their uplifting words for then and now. 
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  Phil. 1:4 (NASB)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  Phil. 4:6 (NASB)
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light..  1 Peter 2:9 (NASB)
The Bride needs to be alone with Her Lover. She longs to know her Bridegroom. She is the true Church and she worships Christ alone and in community. She communes with Him through prayers of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving while He strengthens her. 
“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 (NIV)

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
  Psalm 139:1-10 (NASB)

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well. 

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. 
Psalm 139:14, 17-18, 23-24 (NASB)

The Bride must keep her eyes on the Bridegroom and adoringly worship Him in the spirit of holiness as a community and also alone. His strength will pour into her, enabling her to stand in His righteousness. Their dance will begin on earth and continue forever in heaven. Others will see and desire the love of the Bridegroom.

”Those cannot worship God aright who do not worship Him alone.”  Matthew Henry

“The more a man loves Christ, the more he delights to be with Christ alone.”   Thomas Benton Brooks

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Wedding Celebration

It’s time. The wait is over. The childhood dreams and pretend ceremonies are now reality. The vision of a beautiful bride in a spectacular white dress appears as she glides down the aisle to meet her bridegroom. He stands powerfully before her with a dazzling smile and his eyes focus on her. The anticipation is practically unbearable. Butterflies flutter inside. Excitement and nervous energy intermingle, almost igniting. The eyes of the bridegroom and bride meet and it’s as if no one else is in the room. Their smiles swell as they step together into their future. 

How many young girls dream of their wedding? How many pretend to be the bride while playing with friends? Whose dreams come true? Who walks down that aisle? Who’s still dreaming of that moment—the moment of complete union between the bride and her bridegroom. 

Those dreams are reality for anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer. Dreams of a wedding, not an earthly one but the heavenly marriage ceremony of Christ and His Church, will come true one day in eternity. The engagement has begun and His Church (the Bride) is washed clean by the blood of the Lamb (the Bridegroom). She must choose to love and live fully for Him while here on earth in order for others to get a glimpse of Him and desire to know Him. Meanwhile she can still dream.......

The victorious Jesus stands before her. His advent brings light to a dark world and His tender merciful eyes gaze lovingly at her. He delights in His bride. He loves His beloved. He is passionate about His lover. The apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:10-11, Zechariah 2:8) has gone from rags to riches. What a love story!

Look at her. The times of turning away from Him have ended. The waiting is over. She’s completely committed, prepared for her Bridegroom, and covered in His robe of righteousness. She stands ready to join herself to the glory of God. Life everlasting will be joyous and glorious!

Are you ready for the marriage of the Lamb of God to His Church? He’s paid with His own life for this eternal wedding feast. Are you overflowing with wedded bliss for your Bridegroom? He’s planned the perfect communion ceremony. Are you blushing with adoration for your King? He’s prepared your crown of splendor. Now prepare yourself.

As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.  Isaiah 62:5 NIV

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10 NIV

Thank you, Lord, for you deep affection, for loving us enough to die for us. Thank you for clothing us with your robe of righteousness. May we the Church prepare to shine your glory for all the world to see! In your precious name Jesus, AMEN.

Church, rise up and prepare yourself with the Word of God!
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard. 
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
    which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
    and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression. 
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 
Psalm 19 NIV    AMEN, let it be so!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Power of Light

Light and dark: two adjectives that are polar opposites. In the physical world, light and dark regulate when we wake and sleep. In the spiritual world, light and dark embody good and evil. In our emotional lives, light and dark can determine our moods. Your frame of reference usually hinges on whether you sanction matters exposed by light or keep situations hidden in the dark.

The super storm that recently pounded America’s northeast destroyed a massive amount of things, including man-made light, the electric power supplied to millions of folks. As modern Americans, we depend so much on electricity that our lives almost stand still without it. We are at a loss as to how to physically function in our world without electrical power.
What about our spiritual lives? Can we operate in the dark? Do we allow the storms of life to overshadow our focus on the light? Instead of daily exposing ourselves to the Light which is Jesus Christ, do we conceal ourselves in the darkness of bitterness, regret, and strife?
Hear what Jesus preached to the multitudes following Him to the mountain. He said, "The eye is a light (lamp is used in the New American Standard) for the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. And if the only light you have is really darkness, then you have the worst darkness.  Matthew 6:22-23 (New Century Version)
Now focus on some of the synonyms of light and dark. Light brings to mind illumination, brightness, shining, gleaming, radiance, glowing, sunlight, moonlight, starlight, lamplight. When considering darkness, one may think of black, unlit, unilluminated, starless, moonless, shady, shadowy, gloomy. These two words are distinctively different any way you look at them.
Jesus is Light for us in a dark world. He shines His glory into our hearts and lives when we allow Him to become our Savior. He came to earth to display the works of His Father, our Almighty God, and to teach us how to live as godly people. The promises of God came to life through Jesus Christ and they are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20). He is the New Testament embodiment of the Old Testament promises; He is the fulfillment of God’s Word. Through the Holy Spirit, He shines for all the world to see. But does all of the world see the Light or does darkness reign over the earth?
The answer to that question isn’t as relevant for us as the answer to this one: does the Light dwell within you and dispel the darkness surrounding you? Are you plugged in to the power source that can shine within, over, and around your entire life? Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and communicating with Him through prayer manifests the life-giving currents of God’s promises. The prayer of faith is the charge through which the electricity of God’s promises shines. Being God’s conduit of light illumines your life and the lives of those around you. The radiance of Christ within you dispels the gloomy shadows encircling you. 
Hear what Jesus says through His apostle Peter to the New Testament believers. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
If you have received the electrical power of God’s Word through His Son, Jesus Christ, stay charged up through prayer. Let the brightness of the love of Christ in you glow in an unlit world and give God all the glory. Stay connected daily to the Power Source and let your little light shine!
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
(After reading a devotional by E.M. Bounds (1835-1913) on “Prayer and God’s Promises” and his mention of God’s promises as electricity, I felt led to write about the powerful currents of God’s light and love. Thanks to all my Bible study sisters who helped me with many words connected to electricity.)