Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Reconciled and Redeemed

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.  Romans 5:6-11 (NASB)

Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.  Colossians 1:22 (NASB)

Evil exists in the world. Grab a newspaper or turn on the TV for evidence. Murders, suicides, adultery, idolatry, sin on every front. We see horrific pictures, hear dreadful stories—repulsion lurches our stomachs and we turn away. But what about our own wrongdoings? How do our offenses affect God? Is He revolted? Does He turn away?

God is holy and distinctively different and separate from mankind. He’s “a cut above” yet He created humans in His image, calling us children of God. Because we are His children, all of our sins affect His heart, even our fear and doubt. Heavenly Father grieves over our wickedness just as an earthly parent laments a child’s rebelliousness. Does a loving earthly parent turn away from a misbehaving child? Neither does God turn His back on His children. 

He lovingly stands ready to receive us with open arms, like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15). Our sins don’t obstruct His action—He runs to His repentant children. For while the world sinned, God sent His Son Jesus to die for all sinners. A sinless holy God loved His children so much that He willingly sacrificed His life to save lives. 

Would you readily die for your own child? Probably. Would you gladly die for a good person? Maybe. Would you willingly die for a rapist or a murderer? Most likely not. Why? Because he/she deserves severe punishment, not redemption.

YET Jesus died for everyone—worriers, doubters, atheists, adulterers, liars, haters, homosexuals, rapists, and murderers. Every ugly sin was placed upon Him on the cross. It looked like ripped, bleeding flesh, nails through wrists and feet, a bloodied and beaten face, a punctured gaping wound below ribs, and death. He willingly took this punishment to spare mankind from hell’s eternal fire. He offered mankind His holiness for a reward of eternal life.

Jesus bridged the gap between a holy God and a sinless people through the act of reconciliation. His cross paves a pathway into the presence of a loving Almighty God. He’s done the work to save us from our sins. Now it’s up to us to accept what He’s done, repent of our sins, and receive redemption. Be honest about your wrongdoings. Go ahead and tell Him because He already knows. Most of our parents knew what we did wrong before we told them. They only wanted us to admit our wrong and apologize. God desires the same. 

Reconciliation is a choice offered to us. Turn away from the ugliness of sin, self, and the world. Choose life and be reconciled to God. Receive the forgiveness of sins and stand redeemed before the holy God. He extends abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven!

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  2 Corinthians 5:20 (NASB)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Irreconcilable Differences - Man’s Compromise vs. God’s Covenant

Our God is a covenant God—He is faithful, He will do it! We, on the other hand, are compromisers, throwing away our convictions and making concessions. We morph God’s Truth into our truth and foundations crumble around us. 

In the fifteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, God discussed with Abraham his future. He promised to protect and provide for Abraham. Abraham inquired about his reward and heir and God said an heir from his body would produce many descendants and possession of land. Abraham believed God yet asked for proof (it’s the human condition—Lord, I believe; help my unbelief—Mark 9:24). 

God demonstrated His answer to Abraham in a literal sacrifice, foretelling of a future one. He instructed Abraham to bring certain animals for sacrifice and cut them for the offering, shedding blood. When the sun faded, Abraham fell into a deep sleep and experienced terror as he watched his descendants in a foreign land as oppressed slaves. God then presented Himself in the form of fire and smoke, making a way for the salvation of Abraham and his descendants by cutting covenant (or walking between the cut pieces of bloody animal flesh). This life-and-death binding covenant of God with man meant that God Himself would suffer the consequences of a broken contract—His death, not Abraham’s. Sound familiar? 

God knew Abraham and all of mankind would fail in keeping the covenantal bond, so He planned to became our substitute. He would die in our place! Years later, at the perfect time, Jesus Christ shed His blood and died for the people He loves—you and me. He faithfully fulfilled the covenant of salvation. What a committed God! 

Throughout thousands of years from Abraham to Jesus, God never discredited His name with a compromise of His plan. But Satan attempted to change God's plan after Jesus' baptism. That crafty serpent met Jesus in the wilderness and enticed Him with earthly promises. Read below from the book of Luke how our Savior stood on His holy convictions. God remained committed!

Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (3:21-22 NASB)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”

And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written,

‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’

‘On their hands they will bear You up,
So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. (4:1-13 NASB)

Jesus understands the worldly allure we face. He confronted Satan and experienced temptations spewed from lying lips. Jesus refused to compromise. Instead He stood firmly on the Word of God and spoke with conviction. Satan left Him, but waited to return at a more favorable time. Like Jesus, we should always be alert to the prowling demon of seduction (1 Peter 5:8).

Yet temptation tends to delight the eyes of God’s creatures. Even as image-bearers of the Creator, human beings tend to follow fleshly viewpoints until hearts completely surrender to Christ Jesus. Acknowledging sin and repenting of it will put a stop to compromise. Accepting God’s covenant—His terms, not ours—guarantees salvation from sin. 

Our holy God doesn’t tolerate sin, yet He entered our lives, offering to take our sins upon Himself and die in our place. This faithful covenant God waits with compassion and love for our decision of surrender to His will, not our own. And then the shower of grace begins. Oh, what beautiful tears of love drench us when we yield to His perfect authority!

Compromise will eventually crumble and collapse around you. Choose to be reinforced by the Covenant-keeper and stand firm on His precious words of truth and love. Have the courage of conviction and act on your belief in the Lord Jesus Christ despite the disapproval of the world. He will give you strength!

Good and upright is the Lord; Therefore He instructs sinners in the way.  Psalm 25:8 (NASB)

And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Mark 2:17 (NASB)

Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.  Romans 5:6-8 (GW)

The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.  Psalm 29:11 (NASB)

If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.         --Peter Marshall

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing with Lyrics Chris Rice

*If interested in a action-packed story of three men who refused to compromise to the King of Babylon, read the third chapter of the book of Daniel. These men believed and trusted in their Covenant God who eventually delivered and blessed them.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Irreconcilable Differences - Compromise vs. Covenant

A noncommittal view defines many modern attitudes. Establishing promises happens easily, accomplishing promises happens rarely. Guarantees contain fine print, usually meaning a broken contract. If a “sweeter” deal exists after an initial agreement, usually disagreements ensue, compromises occur, and standards depreciate. Face it—humans make concessions. 

Our lack of commitment contrasts with a devoted God. He is in truth a covenant God—a deal-maker, not a deal-breaker. He created us in His image, but when sin entered the Garden of Eden, He set forth a plan to save mankind. He accomplished His objective through His Son, Jesus Christ. He committed to the process of salvation long before Christ’s entry onto earth, through His reentry into heaven, and up to the present. Face it—God is faithful!

Not every time, but for the most part compromise feels cheap and strips away foundations of truth. Standing on middle ground rarely creates contentment for either side. The Lord speaks about dying to convictions and becoming lukewarm. He says, “I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). Compromise can be an abysmal place.

On the other hand, covenant binds with security. It’s a clincher, decisively settling the matter. Nations make treaties, individuals make pledges, but God makes covenant, one covenant. His covenant is binding from beginning to eternity. Nations and people may renege on their agreements, but God never defaults on His promises, holding faithfully to His everlasting covenant. 

Through the ages pacts and pledges sometimes involved blood-letting, including even death to the deal-breaker. To better understand the courage of covenant and the collapse of compromise, read below from the book of Genesis. Pay close attention to God’s promise to Abraham, His presentation of sacrifice in a dream, and the voice Abraham obeys. 

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying,

“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”

Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.” 
(15:1-21 NASB)

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the Lord judge between you and me.” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence. (16:1-6 NASB)

What did God promise Abram (later known as Abraham)? What did Abraham ask of God? How would the childless Abraham have many descendants? Where would they live? If Abraham believed God, why did he ask for proof of possession of the land? How did God demonstrate His faithfulness through the sacrifice? Was He foreshadowing a future event? With all that God guaranteed him, why did Abraham listen to his wife Sarai (later known as Sarah)? Did he compromise the promise of God?

Consider the answers to these questions and return next week for more about the irreconcilable differences of compromise and covenant. In the meantime, turn away from sin and be reconciled to God (Matthew 5:24, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Colossians 1:22). Praise His holy Name!

by Robert Robinson, 1758

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away.
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.   

To understand more deeply the lyrics of this old hymn, go to - 

Praise the Lord with the David Crowder Band - 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Irreconcilable Differences—Worry vs. Worship

As I write this post about worshiping instead of worrying, I am worrying. I can’t even heed God’s instructions written through me. Plus I’m disobeying the Word of the Lord God Almighty—do not worry, do not fear—which is stated multiple times in the Bible. Why do I disregard the repeated Word of my Savior who loves and cares for me?

Why is this happening to me? I know the answer—I've posted it time and time again throughout this blog. I’m worried because I’m focused on my circumstances instead of Jesus. My eyes are looking everywhere but onto the Word of God. “Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief!”

Lord God, I praise you for who you are! You are the Sovereign Maker of heaven and earth, the Sinless Savior who traded your holiness for my wickedness, and the Compassionate Redeemer who covers me with undeserved grace and mercy. Forgive me, Heavenly Father, for the sins I’ve committed in thought, word, and deed. Help me to forgive others who have done the same to me! Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and providing abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven. Your blessings are breathtaking—I need only to look around and recognize them. Holy Spirit, enable me to let go of my problems full of fear and worry and cling to your faithful promises of hope and assurance. I trust you with my life and lives of my loved ones. In Jesus’ precious name, AMEN!

It’s all there in a model for prayer—ACTS—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. Our prayers should be filled with the truth of who God is and we need to give Him thanks and praise for what He’s done for us. When we humbly bow and submit to the power of Almighty God, resisting the ways of sin and the devil, Satan will flee (James 4:7) . And we’ll be free from the chains of worry and fear. Praise God!

Problems and promises, fear and faith, worry and worship—irreconcilable differences lead to a divided heart. Yet God reconciled Himself to us through Christ Jesus, not counting our sins against us, but making a way for us to approach Him with our burdens (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Hebrews 4:16). Therefore, be reconciled to Him, turning away from division and uniting with Him (2 Corinthians 5:20, Psalm 86:11). Receive a whole heart in Christ Jesus.

God’s promises overpower problems so praise Him in your wilderness. Faith routs fear and worship trumps worry!

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:23-24 (NASB)

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
  Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NASB)

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)

I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.  Jeremiah 24:7 (NASB)

I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.  Psalm 9:1 (NASB)

I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.  Psalm 30:1 (NASB)

I will praise the name of God with song, And magnify Him with thanksgiving.  Psalm 69:30 (NASB)

I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever.  Psalm 86:12 (NASB)

“Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns

“Bring the Rain” by MercyMe

“It Is Well Live” by Bethel Music