Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hungry Souls


"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. We are far too easily pleased."  —C. S. Lewis

The world is brimming with hungry people, starving people. Some need food, physical food, to nourish them. But many need spiritual food. They wander through life seeking fulfillment, turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, money—whatever will give them momentary satisfaction. Many times their actions then cause others pain. Read below the story of the prodigal son. Recognize his discontent and uncover what he found when he came to the end of himself and humbled himself. See how the father runs to him and celebrates his return. Think of the father in the story as our heavenly Father.

And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he 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.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.  Luke 15:11-24 (NASB)
The world is also teeming with people who are full—of themselves. They wander through life seeking something to make themselves look good like success, material goods, even religion. Some attribute their achievements and gifts to their own abilities and resources. Others are legalistic, attempting to be good by following the rules, then judging those who don’t. Read about the older son in the story of the prodigal son. He thinks because he lived righteously, serving his father for years, he deserves a celebration as well. But the father pleads with him, saying he's always had access to him and his possessions. Again the father in the story is like our heavenly Father.

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”  Luke 15:25-32 (NASB)
Jesus told another story about a Pharisee who saw himself as righteous and the tax collector who recognized his own sin. The one who knew he was a sinner humbled himself before God and the other “pointed his finger” at the sinner. Read the story below.
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 18:9-14 (NASB)
Human beings seek pleasure, contentment, and/or achievement in numerous ways. Whether successful or not, we desire gratification. We may be after the trappings of society or aim to obtain notice from those around us. We may strive to be the very best or live with a sense of hopelessness. Whatever it is we’re after, we will forever search for happiness until we discover the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus tried to explain this to the disciples and those that followed Him. Read Jesus’ explanation of who He is and how belief in Him means salvation.  

Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
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. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”  John 6:26-40 (NASB)
God pleads and runs after His hungry people. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that sinners might be saved. We must recognize our need and humble ourselves, asking for the forgiveness of sins against a righteous and holy God. 
Only Jesus, the bread of life, satisfies our hunger. He is the daily bread we need to survive in this world. He is our only source of fulfillment. He is our joy and comfort, our delight and pleasure. When we rely on Him, He fills us with Himself and we are completely assured and at peace.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Reality of God


I just returned from a trip down memory lane. My mom and I returned to a former church that my father pastored many years ago to celebrate the 90th birthday of a long-time member of the church. Our families have a long-standing relationship and one of his daughters and I developed a lasting friendship. How delightful to return and reunite! The reunion intensified when another close friend showed up. 

All three of us grew up together at that church, attending the same Sunday School classes. We sat through Lutheran confirmation classes, experienced many youth group activities, and sang in the choir. It felt as if we lived and breathed church. Most importantly, we experienced God in that place. He became a part of us and I’m not sure how much we understood His presence at that time. 

As my friends and I reminisced, I realized the depth of God’s existence in our families and in our own personal lives. Even if we walked away at times, He never left. Our increased faith gives testimony to His steadfastness in our daily living. Praise God! Thank you, Jesus, for loving me! Thank you for family and friends. Thank you for the tie that binds hearts lived for You!

What’s your story with God? Did you grow up going to church? When were you aware of His entrance into your life? Or maybe you’ve not experienced Him yet? Get to know Him. He’s manifested (revealed) Himself in many ways: through creation, in the moral hearts of mankind, through His people Israel, in the Holy Scriptures, and through Jesus Christ. He’s alive and desires a relationship with you. He’s ready to pour out His grace and mercy upon you. Call to Him and He will answer you and show you great and mighty things (Jeremiah 33:3).


Grafted into God

Lord, how imbedded You are in our lives!
Do we see?
What does it take?
For us to glorify thee. 

Your Word planted in our hearts
At an early age.
We learned of You.
Did we fully engage?

We fixed You in our planned existence,
Living life,
Forgetting Your worth,
Gradually encountering strife.

Even though You lodged in our everyday
We set You aside.
Problems arose.
At times our faith died.

Help, dear Lord, we’re sinking fast
Where do we go?
What do we do?
Cause our trust in You to grow.

Implant Your Spirit upon our hearts.
On our knees
We cry out to You,
Fill to overflowing please.

We see the root of Your impartation.
You are known
In our lives.
Your Words in us are sown.

Lord God, we seek You as our way of life.
We need You each day.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Be our center, we pray.

Deborah Crawford - 4/13

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Wonderful Cross



No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:13-16 (NKJV)
Did you know the Scripture verse above clearly tells us about the Savior of the world? He is Jesus Christ. It also explains how believers will be drawn to Him: through the cross. And, with one of the most beloved verses of the Bible, we are told how much God loves all of us as well as the consequences of our belief in His Son Jesus: eternal life. Thank you, Jesus! The Scripture also mentions Moses lifting up a serpent in the wilderness, but why?
After God miraculously rescued His people through the Red Sea, they grumbled about the food in the desert. So God provided manna (bread from heaven) for them, but they began to complain about eating it every day. They dreamed of the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they ate in Egypt. God then supplied meat for a month for His whining people by dropping quail from the sky. As time went on, the Israelites continued their moaning about food and the journey in the desert, speaking against God and Moses. Because of this sin, God sent fiery serpents that bit the people, killing many of them. The people repented of their sin and asked Moses to intercede with the Lord to remove the snakes. God’s reply follows:
And the Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent [of bronze] and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole, and if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked to the serpent of bronze [attentively, expectantly, with a steady and absorbing gaze], he lived.  Numbers 21:8-9 (AMP)

God provided a way out for sinners in the desert with a serpent lifted up on a pole. Those looking with hope upon it lived. But Moses and the snake on a pole only temporarily fixed the problem of sin. God accomplished His plan of redemption for sinners through His Son Jesus Christ by lifting Him high upon a cross on a hill for all to see. Those hopefully gazing upon that cross and repenting of sin gain new life now and forever with Christ Jesus. 

Have you ever experienced a miracle yet grumbled later against God when life didn’t happen like you planned? Look to your Savior on the cross. Have you found yourself living life with no miracle from God and getting discouraged, complaining about your misfortune? Look to your Savior on the cross. Have you never known where to turn for hope in your life? Look to your Savior on the cross. Jesus died for the whole world, so look to your Savior on the cross and KNOW that He overcame death from His crucifixion and lives eternally. His victory paves a way for us to live with Him here on earth and forever in heaven.  Look to your Savior who is high and lifted up! Look to the cross and live!

...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:10-11 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16 (NKJV)
After studying the two Scriptures above, George Bennard wrote the hymn “The Old Rugged Cross.” As you read or sing this song, may his discovery about the amazing work of Christ’s cross help you on your journey with our Lord. 
   
“The Old Rugged Cross”

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above to bear it to dark Calvary.
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see;
For 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died to pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He'll call me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I'll share.
So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.
 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Scripture Prayers



This is my prayer for you from the first chapter of Ephesians. I pray that you know the truth, the gospel of salvation, and grow in spiritual wisdom and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Knowing this truth will set you free and give you peace for daily living. May God strengthen you with His might as He blesses you through His Word. 

Greeting
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will.
To the holy and faithful people in Christ Jesus in Ephesus.
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The believers’ blessings
3 Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. 4 God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. 5 God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan 6 and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves. 7 We have been ransomed through his Son’s blood, and we have forgiveness for our failures based on his overflowing grace, 8 which he poured over us with wisdom and understanding. 9 God revealed his hidden design to us, which is according to his goodwill and the plan that he intended to accomplish through his Son. 10 This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. 11 We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design. 12 We are called to be an honor to God’s glory because we were the first to hope in Christ. 13 You too heard the word of truth in Christ, which is the good news of your salvation. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit because you believed in Christ. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians
15 Since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, this is the reason that 16 I don’t stop giving thanks to God for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, 19 and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. This power is conferred by the energy of God’s powerful strength. 20 God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, 21 far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. 22 God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, 23 which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.  (Common English Bible)
May God grant you a deeper understanding of His Word as these Scriptures are read. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead and now lives, I pray that your belief in Him will be raised to resurrection power as you live out your days in Christ. In Jesus’ name.....AMEN!

Below are words from Scripture to assist you in your prayers. There is power in praying God’s words of promise. For more Scripture prayers, go to www.prayingscriptures.com
Scriptures for Encouragement
1Sam 12:16...... "...stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes...
Luke 18:27....... "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
Num 23:19....... "God is not a man, that He should lie. Has He said, and will He not do it?
Jas 1:4............ "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Rom 8:31......... "If God be for us, who can be against us?
2Tim 2:1.......... "...be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2Tim 1:13........ "Hold fast the pattern of sound words...in faith and love...
Col 3:2............ "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Col 3:23.......... "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,...
Mark 9:23........ "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.

Josh 1:9............ "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

1Chr 22:18........ "And has He not given you rest on every side?"

2Chr 20:17........ "You will not need to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you,..."
John 16:33......... "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
Rom 8:18............ "...consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Rom 8:37............ "Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
Rom 8:39............ "(Nothing can) separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Rom 8:28............ "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
2Tim 4:5.............. "...be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
2Tim 4:7.............. "Fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith."(paraphrased)
Mic 7:8................. "Do not rejoice over me, my enemy; when I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me."
Phil 4:13................"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
1Jn 4:4................. "(You) have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world."
Phil 1:6................. "(Be) confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ,..."
Phil 4:4.................. "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!"

Praying For The Nations
Joel 3:12...........Let the nations be awakened!
Isa 1:2..............Let the earth hear the voice of the Lord!
Ps 9:20............Judge the nations in Your sight, Father, and put them to fear,
Ps 9:20.............that they might know themselves to be but men.
Rom 8:22..........Father, the whole creation groans and labors
Rom 8:21..........to be delivered from the bondage of corruption,
Rom 8:21..........into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Jn 15:26...........Send forth Your Spirit of Truth to bear witness of You,
Jn 16:8.............and to convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.
Eze 14:6..........Cause them to repent and to turn from their idols.
Hag 2:7............Shake the nations, so they will come to the Desire of All Nations(Jesus).
Num 23:24........Father, cause Your people to rise up.
Joel 3:11..........Gather Your mighty ones to prepare for war.
Joel 3:14..........Bring the multitudes into the valley of decision.
Jer 49:14..........Send Your ambassadors into all the nations.
Col. 4:3............Open to them a door for the Word, to speak the mystery of Christ,
Mt 24:14...........that the gospel of the kingdom may be preached in all the world.
Ps 111:6..........You have declared to Your people the power of Your works,
Ps 111:6...........in giving them the heritage of the nations.
Phil 2:10...........Let every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!
Isa 61:11...........Cause righteousness and praise to spring forth.
Hab 2:14...........Let the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory
Hab 2:14...........of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Isa 43:9.............Father, gather the nations together,
Ps 22:27............that they may worship Thee,
Ps 46:10............and exult Thee in all the earth.
Gal 3:8...............Let all the nations be blessed through Your people,
Zech 14:14.........and let the wealth of the heathen be gathered together
2Kin 22:5...........and be delivered into the hands of Your people for the work of the Lord.
Isa. 49:6............Send forth Your salvation to the ends of the earth,
Mk 12:36...........and make Your enemies to be Your footstool.


Again....these prayers are from the following website -   www.prayingscriptures.com   - and there are many more. Pray these prayers out loud to the God of all creation, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let all believers, no matter who they are, where they are, or what they’ve done, rise up and give God the glory He is due! May His lovingkindness, forgiveness, and grace pour down like rain over your lives! Thank you, Heavenly Father, for what you are going to do in the lives of your people. Now go and serve the Lord your God.
And all God’s people say, “AMEN.”