Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hungry and Thirsty

The bond between parent and child is heartfelt and deep-rooted, and any differences occurring in the relationship are usually pardoned by love. The earthly devotion between family members is a miniature version of the heavenly love between God and His people. Yet alongside relationships filled with love comes pain.

The Old Testament contains a story in 2 Samuel 15-19 about King David and his son Absalom. King David’s son desired power over love and respect for his own father. Absalom deceived not only his father, but some people of Israel, and with them he desired to overtake King David. A fight was planned when word reached David and his men. Both parties crossed over the Jordan River at different times, camping at different places. Several people took care of David and his men with beds and food saying, "The people are hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness." (2 Samuel 17:29) Gaining strength, David and his men prepared to fight. Before the battle ensued, David said to his men, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (2 Samuel 18:5). 

During the armed conflict, Absalom’s head got hung on several limbs as his mule walked under a tree. When David’s men came upon him, only one chose to go against the wishes of a father for his son and he killed Absalom with three swords through the heart. When King David heard the news, he trembled and cried. As he walked away, he said, “Oh, my son Absalom! Oh, my son! My son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! Oh, Absalom, my son! My son!” (2 Samuel 18:33) 

Absalom’s death grieved King David as evidenced in his cries of distress and sorrow. Any loving parent can easily relate to the emotion felt by David. How about the deceit displayed by Absalom before he met his death? Did David suffer dejection and despair over his son’s life choices?

Fast forward to another emotional father and son relationship. Luke 15 consists of several parables told by Jesus, one being the story of the prodigal son. It was stated that a man had two sons and the younger one asked for his share of the family’s wealth. After the father gave him his inheritance, the son went away and squandered his estate in loose living. A famine occurred where he lived and being completely poor, he hired himself out to a man with pigs. While working among the swine, the young man came to his senses and said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men” (verses 17-19). 

So the young man got up and traveled towards his homeland. When he was still a long way off, the father saw him, ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him. Immediately the father planned a huge celebration for his son’s homecoming. But while the son was away, did the father suffer dejection and despair over his son’s life choices?

Fast forward again to a time when a Samaritan woman encountered Jesus at a well. Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with each other, so the fact that Jesus talked to this woman is amazing. Jesus asked her for a drink of water and she questioned Him about their differences. He answered her saying, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). She asked where to get the living water. Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). The Samaritan woman asked Jesus for this water as she was spiritually thirsty and living in sin. Had she suffered dejection and despair over her own life choices?

The two stories of fathers and sons embrace love, pain, and even hunger. The story of the Samaritan woman presents a spiritually thirsty person standing by a well full of water. Hunger and thirst—what do those feelings have to do with anything? Reread the verses on hunger and thirst. The people are hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness (2 Samuel 17:29). How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger (Luke 15:17). Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw (John 4:15).

King David and his men journeyed out in the wilderness where they became hungry, weary, and thirsty. Someone saw their needs and met them. The prodigal son journeyed to another country where he chose to sin and spend all his inheritance. Eventually a famine occurred in the land, and that spiritually hungry young man also grew physically hungry. He finally came to his senses, realizing plenty of food awaited him back home. So he returned to his father, who waited with compassion for him. The Samaritan woman drew water from a well to quench her physical thirst, only to discover her spiritual thirst once she met Jesus. 

All three stories communicate spiritual hunger and thirst that only Jesus can fill. Are you spiritually hungry? Do you thirst for more than water? I pray you will come to your senses and return to your Heavenly Father who waits with compassion for you. Love conquers all (Proverbs 10:12). Do you have a spiritually hungry or thirsty child, a prodigal? Wait with compassion for him/her to come to their senses and pray for a safe return to our Heavenly Father who loves His children. Love conquers all. 

Love comes from God. Only He can satisfy the wanderings and longings of His people in the wilderness. Only He can fill our empty souls that hunger and thirst. Hear His Words of Life and run to Him for satisfaction and salvation.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35 (NASB)
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 (NASB)
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary
And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south. 
They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
They did not find a way to an inhabited city.
They were hungry and thirsty;
Their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.
He led them also by a straight way,
To go to an inhabited city.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men! 
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. 
Psalm 107:1-9 (NASB)
(for more of God’s Word, read all of Psalm 107)

I searched for you, Lord God, in the wilderness. Thank you for waiting with compassion for my return to you. Thank you, Jesus, for satisfying my hunger and quenching my thirst. Thank you for Your love. May my life bring honor and glory to Your name. AMEN!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Endless Worship

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.
So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.  Psalm 63:1-5 (AMP - Amplified Bible)

Have you ever seen spectators at a sporting event stand at their seat, raise their arms, yell, and then sit down? I mean they are standing, raising arms, shouting, and sitting in succession, one right after another, until the entire gathering of fans are waving. This sequence of actions by the sports enthusiasts goes on and on as “the wave” travels continuously around the arena. Round and round the activity goes with swelling excitement, causing the place to appear as if it’s moving. The sight of it is impressive.

God gave me that vision last Sunday as I stood praising Him with other people at church. While worshipping I envisioned the continuous praise that surrounds our Father in heaven. Then I thought of all the people worshipping in neighboring churches, in churches across the state of Georgia, across America, and across the world. What must the earthly praises of God’s people look like as they rise up in succession across the globe, magnifying Him? Does it resemble the wave?

The earth rotates around the sun as it shines in sequence on people across the world. In succession God’s people arise from their sleep, praise Him at church, offer prayers at various times, and later go to bed, giving Him thanks. Can you imagine how the wave of praise looks as it moves across our planet? Does it rise up to Almighty God as smoke from a burnt offering?

In the Old Testament, God’s people were required to give offerings of sacrifice for various reasons, including festival celebrations, thanksgiving, for peace and prosperity, and for the payment of sins. On altars to God the people offered burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, free will offerings, peace offerings, wave offerings, and offerings of consecration (dedication) to God. All types of offerings had a specific purpose and meaning. For example, the shed blood of the sacrificed animals atoned (paid) for the people’s sins and God granted forgiveness. In the New Testament, the sacrificial offering of Jesus’ life replaced the old system of sacrifices. His shed blood on the cross pays for the sins of the entire world and forgiveness is given to those who believe in Jesus as Savior. 

Even though we no longer adhere to the old system of sacrifices because of Jesus’ sacrifice, one offering from the Old Testament reminds me of “the wave” of praise offered to God by His people. The wave offering was an offering for the Lord, expressing to Him servitude, peace, and commitment. The priests literally waved portions of the offerings of animals, bread, or grain in the air before the Lord. God then released the offered portion to those involved in the sacrifice; He provided food for those who offered themselves in service to Him. When we wave our praises before the Lord, in spite of our circumstances, He provides for our needs. He sees our commitment and gives us His promise of faithfulness. Praise God!

Whether we worship in churches, homes, prisons, nursing homes, schools, coffee shops, by ourselves or in a group, our waves of praise are constantly ascending to our Heavenly Father and He is pleased. Whether we exalt His Name with ancient hymns, praise songs, the psalms, prayers, or responsive readings, in whatever language we speak, our praises are constantly ascending to our Heavenly Father and He is pleased. Morning and evening as our globe rotates around the sun, our praises encircle our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer God and He is pleased. 

Stop right now and begin “the wave.” Offer up to the Lord your commitment and service. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not your situation, and trust in His provision for your life. He is worthy of all our praises and He inhabits the praises of His people!

But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].  Psalm 22:3 (AMP)

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    he is to be feared above all gods. 
1 Chronicles 16:25 (NIV)  

Lord, the heavens praise Your wonders—
Your faithfulness also—
in the assembly of the holy ones. 
Psalm 89:5 (HCSB - Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Praise Him, sun and moon;
praise Him, all you shining stars. 
Psalm 148:3 (HCSB)

Praise Him with trumpet blast;
praise Him with harp and lyre. 
Psalm 150:3 (HCSB)

Now Jesus came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen...  Luke 19:37 (HCSB)

God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us— 

That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For You will judge the peoples with uprightness
And guide the nations on the earth. 

Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us. 
God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him. 
Psalm 67 (NASB)

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your faithfulness to me. My lips shall praise you as I wave my offerings before You. AMEN!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hanging Memories

The season of Christmas has come and gone. By now most everyone has put up their decorations, probably with some hesitation. The anticipation of the celebration of Christmas adds to the excitement of decorating, but taking down the trimmings generates a sense of sadness because it’s over. Or is it? 

Shouldn’t we continue to celebrate Immanuel, the God who came to live among us? Why do we allow ourselves to become downcast when we just observed the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Have we forgotten to remember? 

Throughout Scripture God appeals to our memory. He implored Israel to remember how He rescued them. He desires for us to remember the great things He’s done for us. He longs for His people to remember Him and praise His holy name. Our God is faithful to us and He yearns for our faithfulness to Him. 

The Old Testament details the many deeds King David did for the Lord God who repeatedly blessed him. No matter David’s situation or location, he always remembered God’s blessings, giving thanks and praise. While David built many houses for himself, he also desired to build a dwelling for the ark of God. After bringing it back to Jerusalem, he placed the ark in the tent he prepared and assigned the people to give thanks to the Lord. His psalm of thanksgiving is in 1 Chronicles 16 (also Psalm 105) and he instructs the people to remember the Lord and His deeds.

Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth.......Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac (1 Chronicles 16:12,15-16). Through David, God instructs His people then and now of the importance of attaching His faithfulness to our memory.

The Old Testament gives more accounts of the people of God remembering the God who delivered them. He rescued His people from Egypt in a mighty way, instituting a memorial of redemption called the Passover. On the night that God saved His people Israel, He asked them to dedicate to Him all the firstborn, both man and beast. It was to be an annual celebration of remembrance and Moses told them to remember what God had done for them.

Moses said to the people, “Remember this day which is the day that you came out of Egypt, out of the place you were slaves, because the Lord acted with power to bring you out of there. No leavened bread may be eaten. Exodus 13:3 (CEB) 

God wanted the Israelites to commit to memory His wondrous deed of redemption with a yearly festival. On the night they were delivered from Egypt, God told them to sacrifice a lamb, sprinkle the blood on their doorposts, and eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread. Leaven works like yeast, causing bread to rise, and they didn’t have time to wait for leavened bread. Besides, leaven is symbolic of sin and was not to be eaten with a blood sacrifice. Many years later Jesus became that Passover Lamb and the Bread of Life. Because He was without sin, He was sacrificed for us so that we might be delivered from our sins. 
It’s because Jesus came to live on earth with us that we even celebrate Christmas. Every year at this time, I celebrate God’s faithfulness to me and my family as I decorate my memory tree. He has always been faithful to us, whether we acknowledged Him or not. When I hang up the ornaments on my Christmas tree, I glimpse into my past, reliving God’s grace and mercy though the years. You see, my tree isn’t ornately adorned with fancy ornaments and accessories; on it hangs memories from friends and family. 

I think of my loving grandmother and her art of hand stitching as I hang up the tiny sequined stuffed felt candy cane, Christmas tree, bell, poinsettia, and star that she gave me one Christmas. Placing the little stick angel with the frayed red gingham dress and yellow yarn halo on my tree reminds me of my delightful daughter as a small child. The fat flat felt snowman wearing a big black hat reminds me of my super son in grade school. Hanging two yellow plastic lids with pictures of my children on sleds in snow helps me to recall how God took care of my immediate family when we moved away from our parents. My mind travels to England where a dear friend lives as I attach little clay figures of a British constable and a royal guard onto my tree. The gold framed Christian symbols that I carefully fix upon the tree bring to mind a time when I cross-stitched ornaments for both of my God-fearing grandmothers, and since their passing have been returned to me. The mangers, crosses, Bibles, and scrolls declare my Christian heritage for generations, giving me hope, and I thank God for His loyalty and love to us in good times and bad.

As the holiday draws to an end and January is in full swing, I reminisce again about my faithful God while returning my ornamental memories to their boxes. Putting away my annual remembrances tends to make me unhappy until I remember that I did not put away Jesus. He’s still with me because He is Immanuel. And I look forward to a new year of creating memories with Him. 

Celebrate your memories of our Lord Jesus Christ’s faithfulness while reading how Jeremiah, David, Isaiah, and Jonah remembered God. Recall His goodness to you in the past, trust in His steadfastness for today, put your hope in His fulfilled promises for tomorrow, and give Him thanks.

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:19-23 (NASB)

I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.  Psalm 45:17 (NASB)

And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.  Psalm 78:35 (NASB)

O Lord, I remember Your name in the night, And keep Your law.  Psalm 119:55 (NASB)

And in that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; Make them remember that His name is exalted.”  Isaiah 12:4 (NASB)

“While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple.  Jonah 2:7 (NASB)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jesus, Our True Love

....on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...12 drummers drumming*....Can you imagine the sound if your lover gave you the gift of 12 drummers? What a racket of loud love that would be! Everyone around you would know. Yet our True Love, God the Father, gave us the gift of Jesus on a silent night and the quiet assurance of love, peace, and joy permeated the entire earth! Hallelujah!

Today on the twelfth day of Christmas (January 6 - Epiphany) we acknowledge the presentation of the Christ Child to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi (known as the wise men or three kings or astronomers/astrologers). The specifics of their identity is not as important as the reason for their journey. The wise men traveled towards Jerusalem in search of the newborn king. They desired to worship the “King of the Jews” by honoring him with gifts granted to new kings. And they had an audience with King Herod. They definitely must have been important to gain time with Herod, the Roman-appointed king of Judea. Read about it below from Matthew 2:1-6 (CEB - Common English Bible).

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
        by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
            because from you will come one who governs,
            who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Scripture says Herod was troubled about the news he heard from the magi and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. Why? What bothered Herod about a newborn? The magi claimed a king of the Jews had been born and Herod was jealous. Read the rest of the story below (verses 7-23) and see what lengths a wicked jealous king would take to get rid of his competition. 
7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” 9 When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.
13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” 14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt.
16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. 17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:
18  A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and much grieving.
        Rachel weeping for her children,
            and she did not want to be comforted,
                because they were no more.
19 After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” 21 Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. 23 He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.
Lies, deceit, murder, and mayhem followed Herod’s realization of the newborn king. He didn’t want someone to usurp his power or disrupt his kingship. Herod, the wise men, the chief priests, the legal experts, even Satan knew a king had been born and worship would follow. Some of them choose to worship the baby king while the others tried to prevent that worship with death. God stepped in to protect his one and only Son from the evil deeds of a jealous king. 
An angel of the Lord told Joseph the gloomy news of the impending death of his baby boy. What were Joseph’s first thoughts? What was Mary thinking? Can you imagine the fright they both experienced as they began to travel to Egypt? Envision with me that night of running away from evil.

Sitting on a small table in my living room is a figurine that represents the three in flight that terrifying night. Mary is sitting on a donkey cradling baby Jesus next to her chest. The donkey looks weak and tired as if he’s been running for a while. Joseph’s robes look to be flowing as he walks fast alongside the donkey, carrying a sturdy staff in one hand and a lantern in the other. The terrain looks rough and rocky making travel wearisome. Their faces express concern as they appear to be moving with speed. What if you were in their positions? Would you trust the God of heaven who placed in your lives a baby destined for greatness or would you be anxious about all the evil surrounding you? Would you try to hold onto the quiet peace that enveloped you the night of your baby’s birth or would your allow the terrifying possibility of death to overwhelm you? 

Our lives and circumstances can consist of happiness and peace or disappointment and heartache. Like Mary and Joseph we can experience the joy of birth and suddenly be surrounded by the news of death. Like the wise men we can fall down on our knees in amazing worship and suddenly be warned of impending danger. Do we focus on the gift of peace that comes from God or do we allow our senses to be filled with dread?
One Christmas night our True Love sent us a king to be worshiped. His love serenely exceeded the sounds of twelve drummers as the news spread about a Savior born in Bethlehem. The good news was made known to all people, both Jew and Gentile. That’s why we remember the journey of the magi and worship with them the “King of the Jews.” God in heaven loved all of His creation so much that He sent Jesus Christ, our Savior, to free us from the bonds of this sinful and cruel world. He offers us love, peace, and joy through the belief in a Savior King named Jesus. Will you accept His gift of blessed assurance by worshiping His holy name? 

*Throughout many centuries the Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has had various meanings for people all over the world. It is stated that during a time of persecution, the Jesuits tried to keep their Roman Catholic faith alive by attributing religious symbolisn to the twelve days. The true love refers to God or Jesus and the twelve drummers refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed (to learn more about this Christmas carol, go to  or visit different sites to discover other meanings for the gifts in this song).