Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jesus Suffered Too




Have you reveled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ this week? Are you enjoying the God-given grace-filled life of freedom and peace? Or are you still suffering in your shame and pain? 

The resurrection of Jesus happened thousand of years ago, and we celebrate it annually. Yet Jesus gives us the opportunity to observe it everyday; we can live in liberty with Christ daily. Jeremiah tells us in the third chapter of Lamentations that His mercies are new every morning. Are we daily living lives of deliverance with Him or are we letting the world dictate our existence everyday?

If we have believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior, He will raise us up after we die to live with Him eternally. But right now, here on earth, we can be raised up to live in freedom with Christ Jesus. He offers to us His grace, mercy, strength, peace, and joy when we surrender to Him our stress, shame, scandal, sin, and sadness. 

Jesus understands everything we’re experiencing. Before the resurrection, He lived thirty-three years on earth. Jesus was human and He suffered like us. He knew pain; He faced fears. His purpose in life was to bring the kingdom of God to earth, be the living example of a godly life well-lived, deliver us from sin through His death on a cross, and offer us life eternal with Him through His resurrection.  
  
When (not if) you encounter trials and tribulations, know (most assuredly) that Jesus understands what you are going through. After all, Jesus suffered too........

  • When you are hungry, know Jesus suffered starvation in the wilderness after fasting for forty days and nights.....Matthew 4:1-4

  • When you’re thirsty, know Jesus not only longed for a drink of water on the cross; He also thirsted for the eternal salvation of all people.....John 19:28

  • When you are tired, know Jesus slept on a pillow inside the boat of His disciples....Mark 4:38-40

  • When you’re frustrated with people from their taunting and mockery, remember how Jesus must have felt when the Pharisees and Sadducees continually tested Him with Biblical laws.....Matthew 16:1-6

  • When you’re shedding your tears over grief and death, know Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died.....John 11:17-38

  • When sadness overwhelms you, know Jesus went to a solitary place to come to grips with the death of His friend and cousin, John the Baptist.....Matthew 14:6-13

  • Whenever you’ve been rejected or feeling the pain of loneliness, know (without doubt) Jesus experienced rejection and loneliness many times.....Matthew 23:37, Matthew 26:38-40, John 1:11.....He confronted His darkest hour alone; everyone left Him....Mark 14:50

  • When you’re suffering the torment of physical and mental pain, know Jesus was subjected to beatings and ridicule....Matthew 26:67, 27:26-29

  • When you feel like God has forgotten you, know Jesus cried out to God about forsaking Him....Matthew 27:46

Are you suffering pain and sorrow? Know Jesus suffered too. He’s conscious of your cries and recognizes your pain. Psalm 53 (below) describes Him as “the suffering servant.” Trust Him—He understands your hurt—surrender it. Live day-to-day in the freedom of His deliverance through His cross and resurrection.

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed. 
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. 
After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53 (NIV)

He lived and died for us that we might die to self and live! Thank you, Jesus! Revel in His resurrection!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

VICTORY IN JESUS






Is your world full of darkness, sin, gloom, confusion, anxiety, or any form of trouble? Within the murkiness, a beacon of light, offering hope and grace, shines through. It’s like a lighthouse rising above your storm. The lighthouse stands tall and ready to offer light amidst the waves that are crashing over you. Look up and receive the help offered you from the hand of the Savior who died in your place.








When you believe and receive the gift of grace, the cross of Jesus where a sweet exchange took place, He takes your dirty rags of sin and disease trading them for His clean cloak of righteousness and perfection. We are made right with God!




Freedom! The truth of God’s word, Jesus Christ, sets you free, completely free. You are free to throw your burdens upon the Lord (He already carried them to the cross) and walk in His peace. His resurrection from sin and death allows you to rise above your challenges on earth in His name, and one day rise to eternity with Him.





Victory in Jesus by Eugene Monroe Bartlett Sr.

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory. 

Chorus
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood. 

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow'r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and bro't
To me the victory. 

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory. 


O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 (NASB)


HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Celebrate Your Deliverer


Where is everyone going you wonder as you make your way through the crowd. The air drips with delight and the noise intensifies. People scurry past you, shoving others out of their way. Everyone strains to see. A procession makes its way down the street as you get hit in the face by some greenery. Some people are pulling branches off the trees, spreading them on the ground, while others are laying down their coats, making a path. What is happening and who is coming?

Gazing to your left, you see the cause of the fanfare. Some guy is riding a donkey down the street and people are waving palm branches at him. Young and old are walking beside him yelling, “Hosanna!” Suddenly you’re caught up in the excitement, shouting with the crowd, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” 

As you make your way with the crowd into the city of Jerusalem, you ask someone standing nearby, “Who is this person?”

She eagerly responds, “He is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Your search begins as you set out to discover who Jesus is and why he is so important. Pushing your way to the city square, you seek answers from anyone who knows. You follow a bunch of people to the temple steps and find Jesus already speaking to the crowd. His words of grace resonate with your soul. 

The day draws to a close, but you’ve hung on to every word, allowing His mercy to heal old wounds. Tears fall as you find yourself sitting beside Him and leaning into His arms. Weariness overtakes you as you fall into a deep sleep. Suddenly a loud thud wakes you. Your eyes begin to adjust to the morning light breaking through your window as you lean over to pick up your Bible. Within the confines of your own home, your search uncovered good news—Jesus came to save you from your sins and breathe new life into your existence. Hosanna in the highest!



Today is Palm Sunday—a day of celebration, rich in the truth of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He comes to you in humility, waiting for you to give Him victorious entry into your heart. Follow the throng of people who are singing His praises and discover who this Jesus is.

Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Earlier He had instructed two of His disciples to go into a nearby village, locate a donkey and her colt, untie them and bring them to Him. He told them to tell anyone who asked, “The Lord has need of them.” They followed Jesus’ instructions, encountering no problems, and laid their coats on the donkey and her colt. Jesus sat on the colt and began His entry into the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-7). 

Jesus’ action fulfilled the prophecy given by Zechariah, an Old Testament prophet. Zechariah had inspired the Israelites to rebuild the temple and restore the worship of God in Jerusalem. But he also encouraged them to expect a greater deliverance to come by saying, 
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
......and He will speak peace to the nations. Zechariah 9:9-10 (NIV)

Over the years, the Israelites came to expect deliverance from the Romans by a military and/or political conqueror. Yet this king Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, representing peace. Conquerors always rode into cities on white stallions; men of peace always rode on lowly donkeys. God fulfilled His promise spoken by Zechariah through His humble Son Jesus Christ. 

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, people waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna!” These actions date back to the time of the Maccabees (nearly 200 years before Christ), after the Greeks invaded Israel, took over Jerusalem, and desecrated the temple. Eventually Judas Maccabees liberated Jerusalem and re-dedicated the temple; the crowds around him were thrilled and began waving palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna.” Judas Maccabees had redeemed the nation from pagan oppression. 

Hosanna means ‘save now’ and comes from Psalm 118 (a Messianic psalm). During the annual celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests offered a water libation to the Lord as a visual prayer for rain. When the priests began marching around the altar, waving palm branches, the Israelite congregation waved their palm branches toward the altar, singing, 
“Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray send now prosperity.” Psalm 118:25 (NKJV)

Psalm 118 was viewed as a messianic psalm and the Feast of Tabernacles had a messianic emphasis. That’s why Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was surrounded by people waving palm branches, shouting, “Hosanna” and “Save us now.” They viewed Jesus as their deliverer, their Messiah King. God fulfilled His promise spoken by the crowds through His humble Son Jesus Christ. 

Is Jesus your deliverer, your Messiah King? Are you singing His praises and asking Him to save you now? Allow Him to victoriously enter your heart and follow Him into Holy Week. You’ll be glad you did come Resurrection Sunday!


Below is Psalm 118 to help you begin praising the Lord. I’ve heard it said that Psalm 118:8 is the center of the Bible. Strive to walk in the center of God’s will this week and trust in the Savior King named Jesus Christ.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.” 
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.” 
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies. 
(verse 8) It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans. 
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 
They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. 
They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.

Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 
    The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.

Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 
This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you. 
The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever. Psalm 118 (NIV)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Cleaning Heart and Soul



Awwww! Spring Break—a time to get away from the regular routine for some fun or relaxation or spring cleaning (which I’ve been doing). As I cleaned up my little room (where I keep books, study materials, notes, and writings), I discovered a small green piece of card stock with seven Scripture references written on it. I quickly tucked it in my Bible for future use. A couple days later I sat down and looked up all the sources one by one, slowly reading each verse. The REAL spring cleaning began. 




The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
Psalm 145:8 (NASB)

My God is full of grace and mercy. He is not quick to anger as I am when something goes wrong. He doesn’t hold a grudge against someone who inflicts hurt; instead He is great (exceptional, extraordinary, absolute, perfect, zealous, passionate, excellent) in lovingkindness (tenderness and consideration toward others).

I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.
Psalm 116:1-2 (NASB)

I love my Lord and Savior because He has proven over and over again that He hears me when I cry out to Him. He listens to me! He is the One I will run to when I have needs; forever I will look to Him for help. 

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)
I need to stop making my own plans for living and trust in the Lord’s plans for my life. My circumstances may look grim and the situations around me may be less than perfect, but my God has a future for me full of glory with Him. I have hope!
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. John 1:9 (NASB)
The sun rises and light dawns each day, sometimes shining brightly upon the earth. My faithful God offers new compassions every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), giving me daily hope. Will I allow Him to shine brightly into my heart and open my eyes to His truth? 
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NASB)
When (not if) I have become tired and worn-out with the business of life, I will stop and be still upon my Daddy’s lap. I will lean into Him and allow His strength to give me rest.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB)
Why do I worry? I will throw off my anxieties and, with a thankful heart for all He has done, kneel in humility before my Jesus. I believe His peace will saturate my soul!
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)
God allowed Jesus to die in my place. Jesus now intercedes for me before the throne of God. Those sins I have committed are forgiven because of His grace and mercy. His lovingkindness lasts forever! Do I share His mercies with others? Am I considerate and tender-hearted toward those that have wronged me? If I have believed in the name of Christ Jesus and made my body His temple, then I am to follow His example of forgiveness and grace. Others will see the Light in me and come to know the lovingkindnesses of the faithful God who hears when we call upon His name! 

I don’t know when or why I wrote down those particular Scripture verses, but I believe God allowed me to find them “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). My spring cleaning has begun! Has yours?
Father God, enter our hearts with a newness of life today. Spring clean our souls so that your Light will radiate with lovingkindness to your people all around the world. May we follow your example and be like Jesus to those in need. In Your holy name I pray, AMEN.