Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Conquering Worldly Woes


Below is a prayer about overcoming and conquering worldly woes in Jesus’ name. Previously posted as “Overcome With Christ”, I have revised it to be a more personal prayer.  As you read it, use the Scripture references with the prayer, fully anticipating God’s victory in your life. Worship Him with gladness as He fills you with His Holy Spirit and a wonderful sense of overcoming in His Name! 


Lord Jesus Christ, we come before you right now, proclaiming your honor, glory, and power. We give you praise for who you are. We love you, Lord God, and we cry out for your peace. Come, Lord Jesus!

Father God, your example of parenthood demonstrates a beautiful model for us earthly parents. You desire our obedience because you love and care for us. We as parents long for our own children to obey us because we love and care for them. Yet just as our own children break our hearts from time to time, so we too at times break your heart with our disobedience. Forgive us; forgive me!

Lord God, you have called me into righteousness. You offered to take my hand and daily walk with me, but I would not. Instead I turned away and chose idols, looking to satisfy my hunger through other means (Isaiah 42-43:1-7). After much seeking and many mistakes, I desire to return to you. Forgive me, Lord, and grant me your mercy and grace. Holy Father, I offer my repentant heart to you. Wash away my sin of disobedience. As you deliver me from my sin and guilt, I will give you praise and thanks (Psalm 86:16, Psalm 51). Help me, Father, to be a godly example to my own children.

God, you said you had plans for me and my children, plans that would prosper us and give us hope. I am crying out to you, Father God, for me and my children. You promised to listen, Lord; hear me, I pray, and answer my call. I turn to you and seek you with my whole heart. I want to know you more and learn from you (Jeremiah 29:11-14). And Father God, I yearn for my children to follow you as well.

Jesus Christ, remind me and my children that You are who You say You are—the Great I AM. Your path leads to the Heavenly Father as you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Through the cross, you defeated sin and death and with your resurrection, you gained life eternal for all who would believe on your mighty name—JESUS. Forgive us, Lord Jesus, and free us from the things that bind us. Your Word says when you set us free, we are free indeed. We trust you as we hold tightly to your teachings (John 8:31-36).

Holy Spirit, comfort us in our distress with your peace. Help us when we doubt your presence and your word (“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24). Remind us of the price you paid for our sins; your victory covers us! When we repent, seek with our whole heart, and believe on your name, we will walk as overcomers in Christ Jesus. You’ve given us authority to overcome evil and we take authority over our life situations in Your name. Assist us, Lord God, in overcoming evil with good (Luke 10:19, John 1:5, John 16:33, Romans 12:21, 1 Corinthians 15:57, 1 John 5:4-5).   


We stand firm on your holy Word, mighty Savior, and cling to your promises for us and our children. All your promises are “Yes” in the name of Jesus. And now in Jesus’ name, we give you thanks and praise, with a loud “AMEN” (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

Come, Holy Spirit, and let it be so!


SCRIPTURE

They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1:19 (NIV)

I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 15:20 (NIV)

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)

I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. 1 John 2:14 (NIV)

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

....for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4 (NIV)

Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:5 (NIV)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”


No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Loved and Forgiven



                                                      Forgiven
                        by Thomas Blackshear II
                             
                             

                              If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, 
               Lord, who could stand?
               But with you there is forgiveness:
               therefore you are feared. Psalm 130:3-4


For a long time I wanted to do a painting that would minister to God’s people, and after much prayer and fasting, God gave me this image. Remember, no matter what sins may have been made in your life, God has made the way for forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.”   - Thomas Blackshear II



This picture (by T. Blackshear and his reason for painting it) hangs on a wall opposite the back door to my house. It’s visible to anyone entering my house. On one occasion, my granddaughter noticed and questioned her mother about it. As my two grandchildren looked up at their mother waiting for an answer, she told them about the love of Jesus. I walked in and witnessed a very precious moment. Thus the story below.......


“Jhejus,” my two-year-old grandson said to me while pointing to the framed picture of Jesus and a sinner. My heart soared because I knew his innocent mind recognized our Savior. 

Earlier I walked into a “teachable moment” as my granddaughter asked her mother about the picture. “Who is that and why is he holding him?” she said. My daughter-in-law pointed to Jesus saying, “Jesus is telling the sad man that He loves him.” Their little inquisitive faces gazed up at their mom then back to the picture. Intently they listened when she told them Jesus loved everybody and wanted to help people. They smiled, satisfied with her answer. 

Is that what Jesus means when He tells us to have faith? He desires for us to believe in Him and simply trust Him with our lives, confident that His answers are the truth to our questions. My grandchildren lived out their simple childlike faith by completely accepting their mom’s answer about Jesus and the sinner. Believe it or not, they exemplify true faith and Jesus says so......

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)
In Mark’s account of Jesus, news spread across the Judean region of a teacher who healed and blessed people. Crowds followed Him. Some questioned Jesus while others desired miracles. Parents wanted their children to be blessed by Him—what a beautiful image!

When Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, He urged them to have faith in God (Mark 11:22). He desired His followers to embrace a simple child-like faith which He Himself exemplified everyday. It’s the kind of faith described in Hebrews—Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (11:1-2 NIV)
Faith in God through Jesus Christ needs to be rooted deeply within our hearts and lived out in our daily lives. Children will notice and hopefully mature in the knowledge of the One who loves them more than we can imagine. 
The book of Deuteronomy includes Moses’ instructions to the Israelites about loving the Lord and impressing upon children His love. I believe Jesus intends for parents to follow these instructions—witnessing my daughter-in-law and her children warmed my heart. Hear the words of our Lord through His servant Moses:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)
Let’s live out faith by following God’s directives, first believing for ourselves then teaching our children. God’s blessings will flow. Can’t you already feel the warmth of Jesus’ hand upon your back? 
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ask for More of Him




Once Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.”
Jesus told them, “When you pray, say this:

Father,
    let your name be kept holy.
    Let your kingdom come.
    Give us our bread day by day.
    Forgive us as we forgive everyone else.
    Don’t allow us to be tempted.”

Jesus said to his disciples, “Suppose one of you has a friend. Suppose you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine on a trip has dropped in on me, and I don’t have anything to serve him.’ Your friend might answer you from inside his house, ‘Don’t bother me! The door is already locked, and my children are in bed. I can’t get up to give you anything.’ I can guarantee that although he doesn’t want to get up to give you anything, he will get up and give you whatever you need because he is your friend and because you were so bold.

“So I tell you to ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the person who knocks, the door will be opened.

“If your child asks you, his father, for a fish, would you give him a snake instead? Or if your child asks you for an egg, would you give him a scorpion? Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Luke 11:1-13 (GOD’S WORD Translation - GW)

Mommy, can I have some more milk? Can I have a piece of cake? Daddy, can I go out with my friends? Can I have some money? Can I have a car? Can I_______you fill in the blank. 
From the mouths of children to the ears of parents, I’m sure many moms and dads have heard similar questions. Such inquiries might have been expected while other questions unpredictably emerged. Whatever the query, it’s not surprising when children ask things of their parents. What might be startling are the answers.
Most parents desire to give good gifts to their children. There is a love so deep for one’s own children that most parents would die for them. Wisdom comes with age and a parent’s knowledge enables them to make wise decisions for their children (until they are old enough to make their own decisions which forces most parents into a humble prayerful position).
Our heavenly Father desires to give us (His children) good gifts. He loves us so much that He sent us Jesus who DID die for us. He is our Creator, Redeemer, Mighty Lord, and Savior; He KNOWS what is best for us. And He (Jesus) continuously prays for us at the throne of our Heavenly Father. (The fact that Jesus prays for us is so awesome. Read the references below from the God’s Word Translation found at this website...... http://www.biblegateway.com). 
  1. Isaiah 53:12 So I will give him a share among the mighty, and he will divide the prize with the strong, because he poured out his life in death and he was counted with sinners. He carried the sins of many. He intercedes for those who are rebellious.
    Isaiah 53:11-12 (in Context) Isaiah 53 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  2. Romans 8:26 At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words.
    Romans 8:25-27 (in Context) Romans 8 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  3. Romans 8:27 The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.
    Romans 8:26-28 (in Context) Romans 8 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  4. Romans 8:34 Who will condemn them? Christ has died, and more importantly, he was brought back to life. Christ has the highest position in heaven. Christ also intercedes for us.
    Romans 8:33-35 (in Context) Romans 8 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations
  5. Hebrews 7:25 That is why he is always able to save those who come to God through him. He can do this because he always lives and intercedes for them.
Parents usually know what’s best for their children and they desire their children’s trust. Doesn’t it work the same way with Abba Father (Daddy God)? After Jesus’ resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit to believers to support daily living. He offers strength, peace, comfort, and whatever else we need to live a godly life. He yearns for us to trust Him with the right answers to our questions. Do we? Are we convinced He knows how to give us good gifts? 

Try asking your heavenly Father for more of the Holy Spirit and accept with open arms the gifts He gives. As you pray for the welfare of your own children, know Jesus always intercedes before the Father for you and them as well. Whatever it is you need and ask for, have faith in Father God for the best answer possible. Trust Him with your life while asking for more of Him.

Today in the United States we celebrate Father’s Day. Be thankful for the earthly father who helped give you life. Give thanks to the Heavenly Father who created you, died to save you from your sins, and now lives to enhance your daily life. Ask Jesus to indwell you with His Holy Spirit, and then ask for more of Him. As He blesses you, serve Him with gladness. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL


“You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you,” Jesus heard His heavenly Father say at His baptism. The sensation of warmth and affection most likely flooded His soul as His smiling face gazed heavenward. Such words can certainly booster confidence! I’m sure those words strengthened Jesus as the Holy Spirit led Him into the hot and dusty desert for forty days, where Satan tested and mocked Him. Even though He grew hungry and probably frustrated, daily His Father supplied nourishment and sustained Him in the wilderness. 

Jesus bore the highs and lows of human life. He encountered all types of situations and reactions from people, witnessing various emotions and experiencing them as well. From the love and friendship of His closest friends and family to the death of them as well, He lived as we do (Luke 1:5-45, Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-44, Matthew 3:1-17, Matthew 14:1-13 - these are references about Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus and Mary, Martha, Lazarus). 

Soon after Jesus’ departure from the desert, He traveled through Galilee teaching God’s words to crowds of people. He later entered His hometown of Nazareth and participated in worship at the synagogue. The book of Luke (4:16-21) records Jesus as He stood before an audience and read from Isaiah 61:1-3. When He closed the book and sat down, He declared to the listeners that He fulfilled those Scriptures. As you read the passage from Isaiah below, imagine what thoughts developed within the spectators’ minds.  

The Spirit of the Almighty Lord is with me
    because the Lord has anointed me
        to deliver good news to humble people.
    He has sent me
        to heal those who are brokenhearted,
        to announce that captives will be set free
            and prisoners will be released.
He has sent me
    to announce the year of the Lord’s good will
        and the day of our God’s vengeance,
        to comfort all those who grieve.
He has sent me
    to provide for all those who grieve in Zion,
        to give them crowns instead of ashes,
            the oil of joy instead of tears of grief,
                and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness.
They will be called Oaks of Righteousness,
    the Plantings of the Lord,
        so that he might display his glory.
(God’s Word Translation or GW)

What are your thoughts as you read Jesus’ words? Possibly at some point in your life thorny words like unworthy, stupid, ugly, slow, fat, skinny, worthless, or idiot pierced your heart and the pain remains to this day. The application of His words to your soul could be like salve to a gaping wound. Jesus, the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, offers balm for troubled spirits, release for imprisoned souls, comfort for grief, joy instead of sorrow, and a crown instead of ashes. Yet we wonder—can He really transform my ashy life into beauty?

Yes, Jesus can transform us because He says so! He came to release and heal captives of misery through the great exchange at the cross. He takes upon Himself our tears and grief and gives us His love and peace (John 14:27, 1 John 3:1). He comes to sweep away the ashes from the fires that have burned us and cover us with His beauty. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we can be reborn and live anew in this life (description below).* But remember the phoenix is a mythical bird; it is the grace of Jesus Christ that gives us new life. And because He is such a gentleman and gives us free choice, He waits for us to make the decision for Him to enter our lives and clean us up.


Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 (NIV)







He’s knocking: will you let Him in? Down deep inside of us females is a little girl who wants to be a princess. Allow your Prince to enter your heart, sweep out the ashes, and beautifully crown you with His love. If you listen closely, you can even hear Him singing over you with joy (Zephaniah 3:17).

Below are Scripture verses to meditate on; submit to God’s grace and let the power of His words heal your hurts. 

[ [Groom] ] Look at you! You are beautiful, my true love! Look at you! You are so beautiful! Your eyes are like doves! Song of Solomon 1:15 (GW)
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces the good news, “All is well.” He brings the good news, announces salvation, and tells Zion that its God rules as king. Isaiah 52:7 (GW)
How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them? As Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News.” Romans 10:15 (GW)
Your boundary lines mark out pleasant places for me. Indeed, my inheritance is something beautiful. Psalm 16:6 (GW)
Then you will be a beautiful crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal crown in the hand of your God. Isaiah 62:3 (GW)

Worship Jesus with praise as you listen to Him singing to you through Francesca Battistelli”s “Beautiful, Beautiful.”

Now hear Him say to you the words below, reciting them with Him, and believe Him! We thank you, Jesus, for loving us so........
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
You are my child.
You are a daughter of the King.
You are forgiven.
You are loved. 
You are upheld in the palm of my Hand. 
You are never alone.
You are not forsaken.
You are blessed.
You are freed from you chains.
You are filled with my Holy Spirit.
You are a new creature in Christ.
You are a light to the world.
You are my beloved.


“A phoenix is a mythical bird with a colorful tail. Near the end of its life, it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises, reborn, anew to live again.”

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Apple of His Eye



I feel so alone.
My spirit is broken.
It crushed my heart.
I’m depressed and devastated.
I feel empty inside.
Now I’m flawed.
My skies are always gray.
I’m not good enough.
I’m heartbroken.
I’m lonely.
I’m messed up and miserable.
I have so much regret.
I’m stressed.
I’m ugly.

There you have it—an incomplete “a to z” of negative feelings, and all of us, if we’re honest, have entertained those thoughts and probably more. Oh how those feelings discourage and degrade a person! There is nothing redeemable in those phrases......but GOD! Only a God of grace and mercy can lift a person up and out of such a destructive path. 

King David felt these negative feelings at different times in his life and he wrote them down in song. We have them in the book of Psalms. As we read his words, we can make them our words while pouring our hearts out to the Lord. If you’re experiencing any defeatist attitude, pray or sing the following psalm to God while waiting faithfully and expectantly for His answer.

I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me. 
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”

I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.

You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. 
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.
Psalm 40 (NASB)

Praise God! Those unworthy negative thoughts and feelings that sometimes captivate our minds can be released by our Redeemer Jesus Christ. He came to save us (John 3:16-17) from our sins and He can lift us out of the nasty murky mire that periodically tries to surround and invade us. 

Psalm 40 tells us in verses five and eleven of the many wonders of God and His numerous thoughts toward us. Because He is compassionate, His love and truth will guard and defend us. Those negative statements are not truth; they are lies from Satan himself. If you have believed on the name of Jesus, you have been redeemed and set free. God sees your beauty and considers you as the “apple of His eye.” He says so—hear with your heart:

This is what the Lord of Armies says: Afterwards, the Glory sent me to the nations who looted you. Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8 (GW)
In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye.
Deuteronomy 32:10 (NIV)

Do you have any idea what it means to be the “apple of His eye?” At one time the pupil in an eye was known as the apple because of its spherical shape, and because the pupil is crucial to the eye, it is symbolic of something held in high esteem. To be the “apple of His eye” means you are cherished, treasured, and adored by your heavenly Father.* You are loved!

The Lord your God is with you.
    He is a hero who saves you.
        He happily rejoices over you,
            renews you with his love,
                and celebrates over you with shouts of joy.
Zephaniah 3:17 (GW)

Throw away the negative thoughts and stay tuned for next week’s “You Are Beautiful.” In the meantime, rejoice with psalms, songs, and spiritual songs.

......by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. Ephesians 5:19 (GW)
Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you. Use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach and instruct yourselves about God’s kindness. Sing to God in your hearts. Colossians 3:16 (GW)

Here are links to two songs of praise:

“All Things New” by Brett Younker

“Beautiful” by MercyMe


*James Rogers, The Dictionary of Cliches (New York: Random, 1985) 8.