Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Love and Power of Jesus



Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NASB)
If you are struggling with anything or feel powerless, then remember that Jesus cares about you and your situation. Focus on Jesus and not your circumstances. Rely on His Word and find hope in Him. He is faithful to His promises. 
The following hymn is one that many of you probably remember from your childhood. Whether you know it or not, read it with fresh eyes and child-like faith. Know that Jesus loves you.

Jesus Loves Me
 by
                                                Anna Bartlett Warner

Jesus loves me! This I know, 
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He who died,
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! loves me still,
When I'm very weak and ill;
From His shining throne on high,
Comes to watch me where I lie.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He will stay,
Close beside me all the way;
He's prepared a home for me,
And some day His face I'll see.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

                                             
I wrote the following poem when I desperately needed the Lord’s strength. I found what I needed in Jesus. May He supply all of your needs as well.

Jesus is my Strength
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Deep within the darkness looms defeat and disbelief.
It’s hard to move forward with the mounting weight of grief.
Many difficulties cause desperation to seek relief.
Where do I turn for my strength?

Doubt becomes heavy, causing tremendous despair.
It seems as if the world doesn’t even care.
Much destruction causes devastation to seek repair.
Where can I go to find strength?

I can’t cope, where’s my hope?
If I plead, who will lead?
There’s no coping, no point in hoping!
I am pleading, who is leading?

Decision looks within and without, seeing something wrong,
Daily deliberating how to be strong;
Daring diligence to shout with a song-
God is the strength of my life!

Declaration becomes louder, shouting out His grace,
Developing the discipline that walks at His pace,
Devotion turns to delight as I seek His face.
Jesus is the answer, He’s my Strength!

Debbie Crawford ‘09

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Consider the Lilies


Consider the lilies, God says. I can do that. They’re beautiful. Colors, shapes, textures—all different, yet adorned in magnificence. If God can create such beauty on the earth, can’t He create it in us as well?

     
                                             

Interviews, jobs, meetings, conferences: whatever the event, we humans worry about our physical presentations. We must have the right clothes, the right look, the right hairstyle. Our worries focus too much on our image and what others think of us.

It's a needless amount of worry that invades our lives. We get so caught up in impressing people with our clothes that we forget about dressing up our hearts. Of course many of our jobs require certain dress codes, but sometimes we tend to spend more time on our outward appearance than on our inner person. Shouldn’t our lives be about adorning our hearts with the cloak of God rather than clothing our bodies with fancy apparel?

Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what clothes to wear because the body is worth more than clothing. The Garden of Eden is a perfect example of what He meant. God created Adam and Eve, placing them in His newly designed universe. It was paradise and they didn’t have a care in the world. Scriptures says that the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). They were living in joyful union with the Heavenly Father.

But bliss lasted only for a while as sin entered into God’s creation and into the hearts of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). The serpent Satan tempted Eve who, in turn, tempted Adam. Scripture then says that their eyes were opened (they were probably ashamed), they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves coverings. With their leafy clothes, they were trying to hide their shamefulness from God. They weren’t clothed in His goodness anymore because of the broken relationship with Him. They tried to cover their sin by covering their bodies (Genesis 3:7). God was not fooled.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating nakedness as proof that you are clothed with the righteousness of God, God’s goodness. But don’t our concerns lean more toward our outward appearances rather than our inward conditions? Our wrongs, our worry, our disobedience, our lack of trust—aren’t these sins evidence of our faithlessness in a faithful God? If God can clothe the grasses and flowers which beautifully grow on earth for a short time, then He can take care of His most treasured creation whom He dearly loves, right? He can enter our hearts and grant us faith in Him.

Right after sin entered into the world, God set in motion a plan to make us right with Him (Genesis 3:15). He sent His Son to die in our place so that we might gain His righteousness. Jesus put on our sins as He died a cruel death, and when we believe in Him as Savior of the world, He clothes us in His righteousness, cleaning up our hearts (John 3:16-17). Before we seek after the things of this earth or worry about our life, we must first seek God and His kingdom through Jesus Christ and then He will take care of everything we need (Luke 12:29-31). He will clothe us with His power (Luke 24:49).

Read the verses below about how God takes care of the ravens (last blog post) and the lilies. Allow His words to fill you with a belief that Jesus will take care of your life.

And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Luke 12:22-31 (NASB)
Now praise God for His favor to earth and man with Psalm 65.  


There will be silence before You, and praise in Zion, O God,
And to You the vow will be performed.
O You who hear prayer,
To You all men come.
Iniquities prevail against me;
As for our transgressions, You forgive them.
How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You
To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.



By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
Who establishes the mountains by His strength,
Being girded with might;
Who stills the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;
You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.



You visit the earth and cause it to overflow;
You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth.
You water its furrows abundantly,
You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless its growth.
You have crowned the year with Your bounty,
And Your paths drip with fatness.
The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with flocks
And the valleys are covered with grain; They shout for joy, yes, they sing. (NASB)

Thank you, Jesus, for providing us with the provisions we need to live this life. Help us to trust You and not give in to worry. We look to You, Lord God, for all things. AMEN.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Give God Glory

To God be the glory for all He has done, is doing, and will do in my life! The credit for this blog goes to Jesus, my Savior and Lord! Thank you, Lord Jesus!


This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.... Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV)


Jesus is the Presence that we anchor our souls to; He is our steadfast hope. May He bless you today as you cling to Him!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Consider the Ravens


....from me to you, heart to heart....

         
I could hear those big black scary-looking birds outside cawing loudly. It sounded as though they were fussing at each other. I looked outside and noticed them feeding on whatever God had given them; their noises were probably the calls to their family to come eat. God feeds even the ravens, those birds that aren’t very pretty. I suddenly remembered a word from the Lord—Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!  Luke 12:24 (NASB)



Consider the ravens, God said, and I did. They appear menacing in their dark black suits. They give me the creeps and look down-right terrifying. I see them on light posts as I walk my dogs in the mornings, and they seem to look down on me, plotting against me. Then I come to my senses and realize they’re just waking up hungry, ready to eat, gaining strength for their day. AND GOD CARES! Really? REALLY! He says so in His Word. Read it again...... Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

You, me, us, the entire human race—we are more valuable then them! Even if we’re not perfect and demonstrate disgusting behaviors, HE STILL LOVES US! And He feeds us—with His Word, the Bible. It’s right there, in your living room on a shelf, or tucked away in a drawer, or maybe that Bible is there on your lap and you have doubts about what it says. Maybe you don’t even own one* (look at the end of post).

That Word, the Bible, has been available to us for all of our lives. You can buy it most anywhere, even at Wal-Mart (here in the United States). It was written over two thousand years ago and it still has relevance for us today. It’s good reading and you can apply it to anything in life, so says the second book of Timothy. Read it right here. All the Holy Writings are God-given and are made alive by Him. Man is helped when he is taught God’s Word. It shows what is wrong. It changes the way of a man’s life. It shows him how to be right with God. It gives the man who belongs to God everything he needs to work well for Him. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (New Life Version - NLV)

So if those words of God can change lives, making us right with God, and if God can really teach us with that Book, then why aren’t more of us reading it? Why aren’t we getting up early like those big black ugly birds and going after it? Those birds are hungry, and with all of their energy and strength and loudness, they are going after seeds, food. They are eating and being filled. They have been provided for by the Provider. All they did was get up and go get it! Can we do that?

Hear again what the Word says:
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9 (NIV)
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:18-23 (NIV)
Are you worried about anything? Have you let sorrow and persecution steal your joy? Is wealth choking you? Are you hungry? Do you feel as if you have reached the end? Are you hanging by your thumbnails? If you’re in one of those places, then you’re focused on your problem, not the God of all creation. Your problem appears really big, probably bigger then it really is. In your eyes, God has gotten smaller. BUT HE’S NOT SMALLER. He’s the same as He’s always been. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NIV)
So why are you worried? HE CARES FOR YOU! Read the proof from 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV): Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. So throw all your worries onto Him. He’s big enough to carry all of your problems and all of mine. Get up early and caw loudly if you need to [In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6 (NIV)]. Let Him know you’re hungry and He’ll take care of you. But make sure you do your part by feeding on His Word. It’s out there, just pick it up, read, and feed. He’ll fill you up and your hunger pangs (pains) will be no more. 
Do not worry—read and believe!
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:22-31 (NIV)
Consider the ravens and remember: He takes care of them and He’ll certainly take care of you. You’re more valuable!
*Do you own a Bible? Use it and make it an old faithful worn out friend. If you don’t own one, please let me know through my email at mothersforprodigals@gmail.com and somehow, some way, with God’s help, I’ll get one into your hands.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Heart of Humility

Have you ever laid aside your garments and put on the cloak of humility? Humility and lay aside my garments—what does that mean? Before answering those questions, let’s consider the actions of Jesus when He humbly “laid aside His garments” in John 13:1-17.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (NASB)
It’s hard to imagine our Heavenly Father, the King of Kings, God of the Universe acting like a servant, but Scripture tells us He did. Approximately thirty-three years prior to this experience, God put aside His heavenly garment of the righteous Almighty God and put on the earthly garment of human flesh in the form of Jesus. He stooped to eye level so that human beings could get a glimpse of who He was and is. As He lived, He exemplified the kind of life His people were to live. Then, when His time on earth was drawing to a close, Jesus stooped lower to wash the feet of His disciples who were sinful human beings. 
What would possess our omnipotent (supreme) Father God to do such a thing like washing dirty feet, the job of a servant? Let’s try to understand His actions by discovering the significance of foot washing and the duties of a servant during this time.
In ancient civilizations, one of the ways that hosts conveyed hospitality to guests was by washing their feet. Most everyone wore sandals and it was a matter of cleanliness. But water was even offered as a courtesy to those who wore shoes. The host either provided water for guests to wash their feet, served them by washing their feet, or provided a servant to wash their feet. Several places in the Bible make mention of foot washing. Some examples are below.
Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Genesis 18:4 (NIV)
“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” Genesis 19:2 (NIV)
So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. Genesis 24:32 (NIV)
The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. Genesis 43:24 (NIV)
Servitude or slavery played a very important role in ancient civilizations. Slaves were used, not only in domestic life, but also in factories, shops, mines, farms, and ships. Slavery was generally forced upon people through various ways, and slaves or servants were thought of as property, not as citizens. Servants had to perform certain duties, and the Bible gives examples. 

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Malachi 1:6 (NASB)

All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles. 1 Timothy 6:1-2 (NASB)

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Ephesians 6:5-6 (NASB)
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Colossians 3:22 (NASB)
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 1 Peter 2:18 (NASB)
It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. Titus 2:9-10 (NIV)

Servants were supposed to be humble and one of the first verses to show humility through the service of washing feet was in 1 Samuel 25:41. It reads—She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.” 1 Samuel 25:41(NIV) Abigail’s service defused a very volatile situation. It’s a very interesting story, and if interested, read about David, Nabal, and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. 

Scripture repeatedly tells us that servants are to be humble, respectful, faithful, sincere, obedient, trustworthy, and submissive. The one person who completely fits the description of a true servant is Jesus Christ; while on earth He exemplified servanthood. In fact, the Bible tells us He was the Servant of all people. 

For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (AMP)

God sent Jesus to earth to demonstrate a better way of living. Even though servitude or slavery looked like it put some people under the feet of other people, it was the attitude that Jesus wanted all people to learn. Submission kept good situations from going bad and as in the case of David and Abigail, that form of humility kept a bad situation from growing worse. Submission and humble obedience in a servant involves laying aside the garments of retaliation, anger, jealousy, hate, prejudice, etc. and putting on forgiveness, patience, love, etc. Being a servant of the Lord means living and loving like Jesus. Here’s how Paul describes it in Colossians.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV)
Paul tells us in Colossians to clothe ourselves with the love of Christ. We do that by following the greatest commandment as stated in Matthew 22:37-40—love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. When we love this way, Jesus is positioned as Lord of our lives and His lordship is expressed in our service to others. By truly loving God, we can love the people in our lives. Paul tells us in Philippians that in our relationships, we are to have the mind of Christ Jesus. Read below....

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. 
Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

In order to lovingly and humbly serve God with every part of our being, we focus on Him and not the naysayers and circumstances around us. Mary of Bethany demonstrated humble service to the Lord Jesus when she anointed His feet. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 (NIV)

If we have laid aside our garments of sin and put on the loving cloak of humble obedience in Christ’s name, then we are truly walking in the service of the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord and with others will be as God intended. We will be the hands that wash the feet of those who need the love of the Lord.

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 1 Timothy 1:5 (NLT)
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? 
Micah 6:8 (NASB)