Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Look We Shared

Have you ever experienced any trauma in your life? Have you ever experienced God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7)? Recently my family and I came up against an experience that frightened us all—for a moment in time, my little granddaughter encountered a threatening health issue. I confess that for an hour I was completely overcome with fear, until I remembered God’s Word from the Amplified Bible which reads “I will not be seized by alarm.” (Hebrews 13:6)  

How many times has Jesus told us not to be afraid? He consistently tells us “Don’t be afraid” in His Word and yet we consistently live in fear. Why? It is stated that there are 365 phrases in the Bible where Jesus tells us not to be afraid, one for each day of the year. Instead of giving into fear, let’s resolve to trust God and His Word. Let’s thank Him for His blessings of grace and peace. 

It's been stated that the phrase "Do not be afraid" is written in the Bible 365 times, so be fearless and trust Him!

My daughter-in-law and I shared a moment of combined fear and relief when her daughter (my granddaughter) returned from the emergency room at the hospital. Without saying a word, our eyes and hearts spoke volumes. Here is what we shared with one look......

The Look We Shared

Our eyes met and spoke thankfulness to a Higher Power,
A Higher Power that never leaves us nor forsakes us.
We shared a look of knowing
Knowing what could have been, realizing a better outcome.

The look from her eyes to mine carried an expressed sigh of relief.
Relief and anxiety mixed as our eyes pooled halfway with tears,
Tears of fear subsided by gratefulness, 
Gratefulness to God Almighty who carried us all in His Hands.

The mingled emotions held sway for a time,
As we fought the good fight of faith.
But God’s Words pronounced loud and strong,
Alarm would not seize us as His Peace overcame the situation.

Breath of Life, thank you for another day,
A day to enjoy your gift of existence on this earth with You and Your blessings.
Thank you, Father God, for the child you took care of through the storm
We lift our eyes to You, Jesus, and give thanks for healing.

Debbie Crawford - July '13

Whatever your situation today, don’t be seized by alarm. Instead give thanks to God Almighty who already knows and understands your circumstance. He is standing ready to fill you with His Peace, and if needed, He’ll carry you in His arms. TRUST HIM!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Interruptions of Value: Part 2

Interruptions, anyone? No, we don’t include them in our plans, or do we? The reality is that interruptions happen; how we respond is crucial. 

Last week in the blog post were several examples of Jesus allowing interruptions into His daily life. As Jesus traveled the areas of Judea and Galilee teaching the crowds about the kingdom of God, many people interrupted Him in order to receive blessing and healing. Imagine how awesome for Jesus to stop and focus entirely on you and your problems? (Here’s a little secret about Jesus today - He is focused on you and your problems right now. The Bible says so in Hebrews 13:5-6)

Now consider the feeling of being ignored. What must it have felt like to be the interruption He didn’t tend to. In the eighth chapter of Luke, we are told that Jesus again preached and proclaimed the kingdom of God to His followers. While others crowded around Him, He began using parables in His teaching. He soon received word that His mother and brothers had come to see Him, but the crowd kept them from getting through to Him. His response was, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19-21) 

Can you imagine being His mother and brothers? Wouldn’t you feel as though you had just been snubbed by your own flesh and blood? I think I might have been furious at first, until I understood the meaning behind His words. Jesus knew His mother and her faith. His concern centered on those who never heard about the kingdom of God. He came to earth to offer it to all who would believe, so instead of allowing an interruption at that moment, He continued preaching. Even though we’re not told what His family did, we might assume they either went back home or followed Him silently. Sometimes God’s work comes before family, but it takes prayer and discernment to make the right decision. 

Besides His family, it seems Jesus even ignored an interruption from His friends. How hurtful would that be? Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were among Jesus’ best friends; they are the ones He regularly visited when He needed rest. One day Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus lay extremely ill. They probably said, “Tell Jesus to come quickly. Lazarus is dying!”

Guess what happened? Scripture tells us when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Then the Word goes on to say how Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. What? You mean He didn’t go running to their house to heal Lazarus? (Have you ever felt as though Jesus didn’t come running to you in your immediate hour of need?) 

When the two days were up, Jesus said to His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 

The Bible tells us that Jesus and His disciples went to the tomb of Lazarus. When He saw the tears of the sisters and their friends, He wept. Jesus cried with them (and He cries with you as well). Then Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and thanked His Heavenly Father for the opportunity to display His glory! He wanted people to believe that God sent Him to earth. So He said with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he did. Jesus healed Lazarus; He actually resurrected him from the dead. Praise God! Then we’re told many of the Jews saw what He had done and believed in Him (John 11:1-45). Wow—praise God some more! By not tending to an interruption immediately, Jesus used the situation to give God glory. Jesus understood the bigger picture; He knew many would see and believe at that moment He was sent by God. (Do you believe that He understands your situation and sees the bigger picture?)

Jesus permitted interruptions at times and other times He ignored them. But remember—Jesus prayed and stayed close in spirit to the Father; He knew whether or not to allow an interruption into His daily mission. What about us? What is our response if we feel as though Jesus ignores our immediate need? How do we react to interruptions in our personal lives?

Below is a story of my own reaction to an interruption one Sunday morning when my family and I were off to church. As you read it, think about church. Is it all about making sure we attend services because that’s what we’re supposed to do on Sundays (that is, if you’re a believing Christian)? Or is it about following Jesus and His plan for your life? Do you make the most of your opportunities to share the love of Christ with others? I hope my own failure to allow an interruption from God causes you to consider the will of the Heavenly Father for your daily life. 

Years ago on a cold Sunday morning, my family and I rushed to get out of the house in time for church. Getting two small children fed, dressed, and out the door usually included complications, making us late. We lived about twenty minutes from our church and on this particular day, we still planned to stop by and drop off old newspapers into a recycle bin. Arriving at the recycling location, my husband positioned the car next to the bin. I got out of the car and began to unload newspapers from our trunk. Opening the bin door to throw in the newspapers, I discovered a man sleeping inside. I jumped back in horror! Recoiled at his appearance, I quickly threw in the papers and returned to the car. “Hurry, we’re going to be late for church!” I said to my husband, followed by an explanation of what I saw. 

Late for church, huh? Would Jesus have allowed the interruption? Consider what the Word has to say about our man-made traditions, our sacrifices. We are called to obey the Word of God. We are called to follow Jesus’ example of compassion and grace. 

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Matthew 9:13 (NASB)
And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?  Matthew 15:3 (NASB)
But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)

So I leave you with several questions and thoughts. Do you feel as though Jesus is ignoring your circumstances? He may be dismissing your interruption temporarily for the bigger picture to display His glory. Do you feel as though He doesn’t care? Jesus is compassionate; He cried with Mary and Martha and He’ll cry with you. Do you know what to do with an interruption? Stay close to Jesus and follow His plan. The interruption could be an intrusion or it could be an interlude with a story to tell. I heard a quote on the radio that says it all—let today’s test be tomorrow’s testimony!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Interruptions of Value: Part 1

Interruption—it’s an odd thing to emphasize and in reality, we’d all rather not pay it any attention. An interruption is annoying! We're forced to stop what we are doing and focus on IT, whatever IT is. Lately God’s been teaching me about interruptions, whether in my personal study, a devotional, at church, or in life. “OK, God, I get it. I need to allow the interruption of Your plan into my own plans,” I finally said.  

Jesus traveled the countryside around the Sea of Galilee, spreading God’s grace. He pursued His Father’s business of bringing the kingdom of God to earth. His mission of love set an example of holy living and at the proper time, He sacrificed His life on the cross for all mankind. Because He focused on His mission, nothing could stop Him, not even interruptions, UNLESS that interruption was God-ordained. Remember—Jesus prayed and stayed close in spirit to the Father; He knew whether or not to allow an interruption into His daily missions.

A great example of a God-ordained interruption is in the fifth chapter of Mark. Jesus traveled back and forth on the Sea of Galilee spreading the Word of God to people living in nearby villages, plus He healed many of their diseases. Word of Jesus’ miracles spread quickly among the many towns bordering the sea and large crowds usually gathered near when He arrived on land. It was here that Jairus, a synagogue official, found Jesus. Obviously he had heard of Jesus’ miracles because he went in search of a miracle for his little girl. She lay dying and Jairus wanted Jesus to lay hands on her and heal her. As Jesus followed Jairus to his home, He was interrupted by a touch of His garments. Jesus perceived that power had left Him so He turned around and asked, “Who touched my garments?” 

The disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”

Jesus looked around and found a woman, cowering in fear. She was afraid because of her label as an outcast. Due to a hemorrhage she suffered for twelve years, Jewish law considered her unclean. No one wanted to be near an outcast, let alone be touched by one. But she had heard the news of Jesus and His miracles, and she believed He could heal her. So she went to Him and touched Him. Because of her faith, Jesus healed her. It was a miraculous interruption. He then continued on to Jairus’ house where He also healed Jairus' daughter (verses 21-43).

The tenth chapter of Mark contains another wonderful example of a priceless interruption. Again Jesus traveled around Galilee and the region of Judea preaching, teaching, and performing miracles. The crowds continued to follow Him. As He discussed the topic of marriage and divorce with His disciples and some Pharisees, parents with children interrupted Him. The parents brought their children to Him so that He might touch them, but the disciples scolded them. This displeased Jesus and so He said, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them (verses 13-16). 

During His daily life, Jesus taught how to react to God-ordained interruptions. He took time to heal many people as He went about proclaiming the Word of God. One time when He returned home to Capernaum, large crowds gathered and He began teaching. Suddenly a paralyzed man on a mat was dropped through the roof by four of his friends who believed Jesus could heal him. Because of their faith, Jesus stopped what He was doing and healed the paralytic (Luke 2:1-5). The disciples even interrupted His nap as a storm approached their boat; He got up and calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan highlights a man willing to allow an interruption into his busy life. The Good Samaritan stopped his travels to take care of a wounded man on the side of the road (Luke 10:25-37). As you can see, Jesus allowed interruptions when they followed His Father's plan.

I’m going to interrupt my blog post right now and leave you with some thoughts and questions. Sometimes interruptions are viewed as intrusions and sometimes they’re considered as interludes. This week’s post shows examples of Jesus experiencing interruptions as small interludes in His mission, all part of God’s plan. Next week we’ll discuss times when the interruptions were actually intrusions into His mission to carry out God’s plan; He would not allow them. 

This week consider the interruptions of your life. Do you stop what you’re doing to help a neighbor in need? Do you put aside your own plans and take the time to pray with a mom whose child is destroying his/her life? Do you postpone making dinner when your own child needs your attention? Is the interruption you’re experiencing an intrusion or an interlude with a story to tell the world about God’s love? I hope you’ll return next week for more of life’s interruptions........

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Do You KNOW God?

Do you know God or are you playing church? 

To know God is to love Him, follow Him, and obey Him. His Son, Jesus Christ, sacrificed His life for you and desires a personal relationship with you! Take the time to get to know Him and decide what you're going to do for Him while on this earth. 

He calls you to be a light in this dark world; people need the Lord. Come to Him, through His Holy Spirit, and find rest for your soul. Then go and tell someone of His grace and mercy.

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,

And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Job 19:25 (NASB)

I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.  1 Timothy 3:15-16 (NASB)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wait for the Lord

I decided my schedule for the day. A long “to-do” list stared at me while I yearned for its completion. Attempting to begin checking off my errand list, I spoke my intentions out loud to my husband. “Hey, I running to the store. Is there anything you need?” I said. 

“Yes, I’ve got several things I must get before I go out-of-town tomorrow. Mind if I go along?” he asked. My list suddenly expanded to our list and frustration emerged. I hesitantly answered, “No.”

“Good, give me about 15 minutes and I’ll be ready to go,” he said, running up the stairs. What, I’m ready to go now; I don’t have time to wait, I sighed silently. I sat down at the table, anxiously assessing all I had to do. Now I’ll never get it all done and he’ll probably want to grab a bite to eat, which will take even longer, I thought. 

Ready in ten, my husband grabbed his keys, and we were out the door. “Where are we going first?” he asked. Comparing our lists, we planned our day to include a stop for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Even though I assumed his list would slow me down, we actually enjoyed ourselves and accomplished everything on our list and more. The fifteen minute wait exceeded my expectations. 

Has God ever told you to wait? You’ve prayed and prayed for a definite outcome to your particular circumstance and it seems He gives no answer. Or He literally says, “It’s not time yet.” We see life’s conditions as needing immediate answers, so we devise plans to achieve an end. Without first speaking with God, we barge into situations with our solutions, sometimes making things worse. Or we anxiously worry, dread, and fear the outcome causing needless frustration and angst. We forget that life is easier with assistance rather than going it alone. 

Many times I’ve barreled through life with my prayer “to-do” list, barely showing it to God while still carrying the weight of its burdens. Instead of fighting the good fight of faith, I’ve wrestled with God’s wait time, inserting my own answers. Imagine the result! Why do I think I can go it alone? Why do I doubt the competence of the Creator of the Universe? Why don’t I trust the Savior of the world?

Maybe you’re waiting to fulfill a God-given task. Maybe you’re waiting on a prodigal child to return to her senses. Maybe you’re waiting on someone to be cured of cancer. Whatever the situation, the help you’re waiting for comes from the Lord, the Lord of the universe, the Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is sufficient for all needs, wants, “to-do” lists, and wait times. 

Look to Him instead of worrying about your situation and its outcome. While you’re in the “waiting room,” give Him thanks for what He’s done. Fight your own self will with faith. Believe in God’s capability and stand on His Word. He’s the Victor and He is Faithful. He’s already accomplished His plan of salvation through His death and resurrection. Wait for His perfect plan for your future. In the meantime, dwell on His words of Truth. 

“If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes.  Job 14:14 (NASB)

Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.  Psalm 25:5 (NASB)
Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  Psalm 33:20 (NASB)
“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.  Psalm 39:7 (NASB)
 I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.  Psalm 40:1 (NASB)
 My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation.  Psalm 62:1 (NASB)
They all wait for You to give them their food in due season.  Psalm 104:27 (NASB)
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words.  Psalm 119:147 (NASB) 
My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.  Psalm 130:6 (NASB)
“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.  Proverbs 8:34 (NASB)
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.  Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:25 (NASB)
Therefore, return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.  Hosea 12:6
“For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.  Habakkuk 2:3 (NASB)
Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me.  Acts 1:4 (NASB)
For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.  Galatians 5:5 (NASB)
And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.  Hebrews 6:15 (NASB)
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.  Jude 1:21 (NASB)

Wait for the Lord; Be strong, (insert your name), and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:14 (NASB)
So be patient and wait on God; He will exceed all your expectations. He’s definitely worth the wait!