Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Something Greater is Here

As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.  Luke 11:29-32 (NASB)

As the crowd swelled, he took a fresh tack: “The mood of this age is all wrong. Everybody’s looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you’re looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. But the only proof you’re going to get is the Jonah-proof given to the Ninevites, which looks like no proof at all. What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age.
“On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that condemns this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’  Luke 11:29-31 (MSG-The Message)
Did you happen to catch Jesus’ words about Himself? Quoted from the New American Standard Bible is the statement “....and behold, something greater than Solomon is here......and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” The version of The Message read A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs’ and Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’ 

Can you imagine sitting with Jesus and hearing Him say those words? I’m sure the reaction at the time varied from amazement to disbelief. Most of the people were completely unaware that God Incarnate sat with them. The Pharisees tested Him by demanding a “real” sign that He conducted the work of God, even though He performed the miracle of casting out demons. Why don’t people see the signs of Almighty God right before their eyes?

We live in a wicked world that dismisses the morality of a loving and just God. Even though the Bible contains The Ten Commandments given to Moses by God, people want to change the laws. The sign of a good God desiring that His people live physically and spiritually sound lives is dismissed. Even though God created man and woman to be one and procreate, people want to change the laws. The sign of a good God desiring that His people live physically and spiritually sound lives is again dismissed. Sin then becomes rampant and people wonder where God is—they demand a sign from heaven when all that is really needed is repentance.

The signs of a loving God surround us. He’s first our Heavenly Father who created everything. He gives us life and provides for our needs with the fruits of the earth. Something greater is here. He then gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to live on earth as an example of holy living. Jesus journeyed the countryside performing many audiovisual miracles among the people. He later died as a sacrificial Lamb on a cross for our sins that we may be declared righteous and live with Him eternally. Something greater was here. Once He resurrected and returned to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within the believers of Christ Jesus. His presence is promised always, giving comfort, strength, and peace. Something greater is here. These are the signs of the one true God. Why do people doubt? Why do they demand more signs? 

Are you a believer in the Messiah, Jesus Christ? Has your life been changed and your sins forgiven? Does His Holy Spirit dwell within you? Then you are a designated sign to others that God is alive and invested in His world. You must be the miracle, the sign, the audiovisual that people see—they need to see God in you. They need to repent and return to their Creator and Savior God. Live out loud the life of a forgiven believer in Christ Jesus. Lives will then change and all will know—Something greater is here!

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.

Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.

They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.

Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
  Psalm 19 (NASB)

“The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”  Luke 10:16 (NASB)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Glory of the Lord

Lord, I give You praise for creation! Everywhere I look, You are there! Your blessings abound—make me aware of them everyday, even when surrounding circumstances appear dire. Thank you for Your fellowship with me—help me seek You daily. As You pour out Your grace and mercy on me, equip me to share Your grace and mercy with others! And may it be to Your glory! 

As you read Psalm 8 (below in two different versions), give our Heavenly Father the praise He is due, after all He is the Creator of the world. Allow this psalm to help you understand the glory of the Lord and the dignity of man. Praise His holy Name, Jesus!

Psalm 8 (NASB)

O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength
Because of Your adversaries,
To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth!  

Psalm 8 (MSG)

God, brilliant Lord,
    yours is a household name.

Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you;
    toddlers shout the songs
That drown out enemy talk,
    and silence atheist babble.

I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
    your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
    Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
    Why take a second look our way?

Yet we’ve so narrowly missed being gods,
    bright with Eden’s dawn light.
You put us in charge of your handcrafted world,
    repeated to us your Genesis-charge,
Made us lords of sheep and cattle,
    even animals out in the wild,
Birds flying and fish swimming,
    whales singing in the ocean deeps.

God, brilliant Lord,
    your name echoes around the world. 
Psalm 8 (MSG)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Whispering Wings

Butterflies on the plants in our back and front yards.
 What beautiful creations of God!


Many people who know me personally realize that God and I speak “butterfly.” Whenever I’ve needed courage, strength, healing, or peace, God has provided His answer of assurance with the appearance of butterflies. Whether real or man-made, butterflies materialize before my eyes and God’s powerful presence is recognized.

To gain understanding about my butterfly encounters, please read my September 23, 2012 post entitled “The Butterfly Said So” (if you haven’t already). And then continue reading (below) my butterfly saga from the story “Whispering Wings” to a recent butterfly encounter while on vacation in Costa Rica. 

God’s abiding presence in our lives is endless. He tells us so in His Word....for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6 NASB) 

God blesses me with His signs of butterflies. I love the sight and flight of butterflies and I believe He reminds me of His love with His creation that I admire. Other people have told me that God speaks to them through the vision of red birds. How does He give you favor? All around us is God’s creation and everything He created is good (Genesis 1-2). Do you ever look around at the world, seeing and hearing our Father God calling you? If you don’t know God Almighty or have never heard from Him, acquaint yourself with Him. He loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for you, exchanging His righteousness for your sins. If you believe in Him, your sins are covered by His righteousness. Look to Him and realize He’s waiting to bless you with His loving presence.


                                       Whispering Wings
     I sat in my car agonizing over the loss of my dad and the absence of my daughter. A wave of grief flooded my heart and tears began to fall. Why now, I thought, when I’m returning this dish to my neighbor. Taking a deep breath and peering out the front window, I noticed a big orange butterfly fly up over the hood of my car and hover over my windshield in front of me.  
     “God, are You there?” I asked. His answer filled me with peace as His presence enveloped me like a warm blanket. “Thank you, Jesus,” I cried.
     I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, yet I believe He engages all of creation to  reassure us with visual messages of hope. I see Him all around and delight in experiencing His companionship. When I gaze at a full moon or the rising sun, and view autumn leaves or springtime blossoms, I feel my Creator’s gaze and know in my heart that He watches over me. I look up to heaven and smile, saying, “You are awesome, God.”
     God’s mighty presence pierces my senses when butterflies appear. Their colorful beauty astounds me and the symbolism of new life gives me eternal hope. Frequently I’ve experienced a number of “flutter bys” by butterflies. When I’m nearly consumed with worry over family situations, I quickly offer up breath prayers and God calms me with a passing butterfly. Throughout my life when I’ve needed a touch from God, He’s shown His love and care for me through these majestic creatures.
     When life proceeds with ease, I occasionally notice a butterfly or two. But during difficult seasons of life, butterflies flutter by me in groups of ten or more. A number of years ago an extremely stressful time erupted over our daughter’s relationship with her new boyfriend. His controlling nature changed her personality and her infrequent visits home from college generated tension that unraveled our once tight-knit family. One slip of the tongue, one wrong move, and the ranting began between my daughter and me. Even when apart our phone calls became screaming matches. My stomach knotted and my face expressed worry. At times it was even hard to breathe. “God, help us,” I screamed out in desperation one afternoon. I heard no voice, nothing but the echo of my own through the halls of my hollow house, yet outside I saw a yellow flutter. Several yellow butterflies danced around each other in the air, breaking rank and then merging again. I desperately needed God’s satisfying peace and He generously supplied signs of His presence.
     While chaos reigned within our home, death came knocking. One afternoon in May of 2005 my youngest sister called. “Deb, you need to come home. Dad is not doing so well,” she said. He resided in a nursing home trying to recover from knee surgery. Bleeding had begun somewhere in his body causing his blood pressure to drop dangerously low and his kidneys to fail. We quickly made arrangements to kennel our dogs, packed our clothes, and began the four hour trip home to North Carolina. After three nights and days of camping out in the intensive care unit, my extended family said goodbye to our patriarch. Even though I numbly walked around in shock, my tears flowed. I didn’t know if I was crying for my dad, my daughter, or me. But I did cry out to God, “Please, Lord, take this sorrow away. My heart is breaking.” A few days later a big orange butterfly hovered over my car windshield and peace began to flood my heart.
     Not long afterwards butterflies began to move in to my yard. Front yard, backyard──monarch and yellow butterflies frequently danced together in front of me. It was as if God was saying, “Debbie, I hear your cries and I’m aware of your situation. I AM here beside you. Lean on Me.” Calm filled my soul over time while God continually manifested Himself through butterflies.
     God loves each one of us very much and daily proves His existence to us through creation. He desires to confirm His presence and strengthen us when life is difficult. The signs of His grace are everywhere for all to see, but, as for me, my eyes will scan the skies for His whispering wings of peace.

                                       Vacation Butterflies

     A vacation is about rest, right? Oh how blest I was to be able to enjoy a brief stay in Costa Rica with my husband, and his company. You see, he did so well in sales at work for 2012 that he won this trip. And one of the adventures offered was zip-lining (aerial ropeslide over a rainforest canopy), and my husband signed us up. What, I wondered, we’re going to get strapped up and hang from a cable over a bunch of trees. “Are you crazy!” I said aloud. “Doesn’t sound like rest to me.”
     Well, I suddenly got “butterflies in my stomach” and my nervousness increased by the hour as the time approached. What if I fall, I thought. Silly notions of plunging off the cable and being speared by a tree continued to interfere with my sleep that night. The next morning I woke up with nerves of jelly. After breakfast, we headed to the hotel lobby to catch our bus for the zip line tour. I said a quick prayer, and looking up, I saw a young girl wearing a beach outfit. I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the front AND back of her cover-up was a big beautiful butterfly. Immediately I knew who was speaking to me and I said, “You are a wonderful and crazy God. I can’t believe how much you love me, even on vacation. Thank you!” 
     Butterflies fluttered beside our bus as we traveled and several flew around the building where we “signed our lives away.” I knew in my heart we would be okay. My Friend had spoken and His peace penetrated my soul.
     Afterwards (and it was awesome, by the way) I bought a souvenir butterfly magnet, telling the cashier a bit of my story. She excitedly called in the manager to hear my tale and then he began to tell me his own experiences with butterflies. Amazing! God, You are amazing! Thank you for loving us so!

Keep your eyes open. A butterfly may “flutter by” you one day when you most need it and least expect it. It’s just one of the many ways God will use to let you know how much He loves you!

As it says in Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Solid Rock

Recently I stood on the seashore of the Pacific coast gazing at the rolling waves. The ocean continually snatched up the sand and slowly shifted the shoreline. I purposely positioned both of my feet in the sand, determined that the waves would not move me, yet I began to sink as the sand shifted around me. I felt the water try to pull me out to sea. 
Walking down the beach, I climbed upon some rocks while the water rushed around me. My feet remained in the same place as the ocean currents hit the rocks. Nothing moved as I stood firmly on an anchored foundation. Immediately I remembered a life lesson taught by Jesus thousand of years ago. 
Matthew 5-7 records Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. These chapters contain His teachings on the beatitudes, salt and light, the Lord’s Prayer, fasting, worry, judging, and the Golden Rule, to name a few. He finished His instructions to those gathered on the mountain with a lesson about two different foundations. He spoke these words:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”  Matthew 7:24-27 (NASB)
Many different philosophies fill this world, and just like shifting sands, they come and go. If we base our beliefs and principles on the changing currents of the day, we will be washed away by the ebb and flow of the latest trends. But if we believe in Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb who washes us clean with His blood, and anchor ourselves on the promises of His Word, we will find ourselves standing firm on solid rock. No amount of torrential weather will be able to move us away from the foundation set by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Are you standing on solid rock or loose sand? Take time to evaluate the position of your life and where your house has been built. If your foundation is firmly set on believing and living like Jesus, then you have nothing to fear. But if your footing is wobbly because it’s built on shifting sand, then turn your eyes to Jesus and call out to Him. Only He can save you from being washed out to sea.
Hear the words of our Lord:
Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.”  Luke 6:46-49 (NASB)
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”  2 Timothy 2:19 (NASB)
He said: I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my solid rock,
    my fortress, my rescuer.
My God is my rock—
I take refuge in him!—
        he’s my shield,
        my salvation’s strength,
        my place of safety.
Because he is praiseworthy,
    I cried out to the Lord,
    and I was saved from my enemies.
  Psalm 18:1-3 (CEB)

I put all my hope in the Lord.
    He leaned down to me;
    he listened to my cry for help.
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
    out of the mud and filth,
    and set my feet on solid rock.
        He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
    they will trust the Lord. 
Psalm 40:1-3 (CEB)

Let Jesus, the solid rock, be your firm foundation and give His praise! 

My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less
By: Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteous;
No merit of my own I claim
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, his covenant, his blood
Sustain me in the raging flood;
When all supports are washed away,
He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in him be found,
Clothed in his righteousness alone,
Redeemed to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.