Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, September 27, 2015

When Clouds Gather, Listen!

Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” Mark 9:7 (NASB)

Imagine standing on top of a high mountain with three of your best friends. A quick survey of land below reveals lush plots of green growth, patches of brown barrenness, and villages situated throughout the region. Turning around you notice one of your friends transformed into the whitest radiance and he’s conversing with two famous people known to be dead. 

Fright renders you speechless as an immense cloud forms around you. Suddenly a voice comes from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Peter, James, and John experienced such an occurrence on top of Mount Tabor. Jesus lead them to the mountain and transfigured before them while talking with Old Testament prophet Elijah and Israelite leader Moses. Momentary fear likely gushed from their hearts into sweaty palms and trembling knees. Questions probably ran through their minds as to what, how, and why.

The event culminated in a booming voice speaking from the consuming cloud. God declared Jesus as His beloved Son and commanded the disciples to listen to Him. Listen!

Consider the mounting emotions Jesus’ friends must have experienced. What feelings erupted as an enormous cloud engulfed them? What thoughts transpired as a thunderous voice trumpeted from the cloud? 

During the upcoming week, meditate on the account of the transfiguration from the ninth chapter of Mark. Adding the preceding chapter of Scripture will allow for a better understanding of the entire event. As you focus on the Word of God, listen and give heed to His voice. He desires for our ears to hear His message for each of us.

God utilizes His creation to get our attention. Remember He came down in a cloud and spoke to Peter, James, and John. If we listen to His Word with ready ears and observe the works of His hands with discerning eyes, His voice will penetrate our souls. 

I’ve experienced communication through various works of God’s hand, including clouds. Clouds give me reason to pause. When I take the time to be still and heed God’s presence through creation, His voice amplifies within my heart speaking peaceful words over my life issues.

Think back over your life, past or present. Are you seeking God for answers to life’s situations, maybe death, disease, divorce, or a detached relationship? Has any part of our Father’s world spoken to your soul? 

Keep your eyes and ears open to God’s handiwork. Listen and give heed to our Father God’s voice. Allow Him to speak His love and peace over your situation and stay tuned for more gathering clouds……

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Unmerited Favor from a Loving Savior

Do I deserve favor from a loving Lord and Savior?
No, yet He continually pours it on. I love Him!

If He withholds blessings, do I still love?
Oh yes, of course.
But I’m asked why?
Because if He gave me nothing else, 
He already gave me His all. 

His life ran red down a wooden stake, 
His arms extended wide across timber bare.
He created the tree in His Sovereignty.
Man cut it down and nailed Him to it. 
But His love forgave.

His mercy took my place on the cross.
His grace gifted me with liberating salvation.

Abba Father, Daddy God, sent Jesus to save us all
From our sins and the fire of hell,
To grant eternal life in heaven,
To offer abundant life here on earth.
Receive and believe, He says,
The benefits of His hope and peace.

I feel His arms around me
Through divine connections of human friendship.
I feel His hands wipe my tears
Through the love of family.
I feel His Spirit lift my soul
Through the prayers of His body, His bride, the Church, the family of God.

Beyond measure I’m blessed because my God saves!
He saves me from eternal damnation.
He saves me from earthly sorrow.
What? You say He didn’t take away pain.
Yes, He did.
On the cross He exchanged the worldly way with His heavenly way.
He took it all, extending amazing grace. 

Worldly situations give rise to fear.
Jesus, the Redeemer, grants authority to rise above, 
To stand in the storm with a peaceful soul.
Yet He allows choice
To be free or remain in captivity,
A life in chains or one that’s fetter free?

He waits with love to receive our debris, 
No condemnation there.
His compassionate arms reach out in grace, 
He waits for our decision. 

I chose to grab hold of His present and experience His very Presence. 
Oh thank you, Lord, for heavenly help. 
What blessings flow from your hands!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your great grace. 
Your willingness to take my place.
How can it be? 
How can it be that you would die for me?

I won’t debate or analyze,
Write dissertations or theorize.
I’ll simply receive an undeserved gift,
Your broken body and shed blood,
Giving thanks, I’ll lift high your love.

I praise you, Heavenly Father, 
I give you thanks, Jesus Christ.
Fill me up, Holy Spirit, 
Extend grace through my arms to your creation.
May your goodness and mercy be visible and received 
As we join together in a chorus of everlasting thanksgiving! AMEN!

Who can forget the wonders he performs—deeds of mercy and of grace? Psalm 111:4 (TLB)

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NASB)

Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 2 John 3 (NASB)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Practicing Peace

The triad of nurse assistants rushed into the room, assumed their positions around mom’s bed, and unhooked tubes and wires from the wall. “You’re coming with us,” they said to me. Without delay they carefully confirmed the proper connections to the infusion pump and rolled her down the hospital hall to the elevators. We soon arrived on the dialysis floor. Stunned and a bit fearful, Mom and I knew her immediate future existed in flux. Worry attempted a take over. Wait transformed into our manifesto. Peace slipped away. 

Wait—a four letter word full of feelings of dread, worry, fear, anger, anxiety, uncertainty, impatience, boredom. What did I leave out? Perhaps you’ve waited in lengthy check out lines to make a purchase or stood in seemingly endless lines to enter a event. Maybe you’ve waited to see a doctor or waited in a waiting room for a loved one being seen by a doctor. Possibly you’ve waited for years for the return of a prodigal child or you’ve dreamed of holding that grandchild withheld from you by your own child. Wait converts into a declaration while peace drifts into obscurity. 

The word wait can either be a noun or a verb in sentence structure. Verbs represent action yet this verb feels somewhat inactive—standing, sitting, pacing back and forth, tapping a foot on concrete or a few fingers on a table. But pull back the curtain to someone’s soul and active waiting is discovered. Waiting triggers choice. Either one’s thoughts whirl in anxiety or one’s mind practices peace. 

Most likely we’ve all experienced those stressful feelings of apprehension while longing for peace. So how do we put aside that dreadful angst? Where can we find peace and how do we attain it? 

Peace is found in Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace, the Peacemaker. He is the peace we seek and we find this peace when we seek Him with our whole heart. We practice peace when we search the Scriptures for His truthful words of tranquility. We practice peace when we daily rely on this Peacemaker to perfectly insert His pacemaker into our soul. We practice peace by walking with Him at His pace, avoiding the potholes of distractions in our path. Life presents obstacles when we focus on our circumstances. Jesus imparts peace when we concentrate on Him. 

I practiced peace this weekend. My situation looked dire as my sisters and I waited for our elderly mom to come out of surgery. Living with no kidneys, her body will depend on dialysis to stay alive. If I focus on the circumstances, my mind spins in fear and tears flow. But when I consider the Peacemaker who walks beside me, peace invades me and His Presence consoles me. 

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being my Prince of Peace. Your faithfulness to me frees me from worry and dread. As I wait for your promises, your consolation fills me with joy. Practicing your peace gives me rest. I trust you. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Are you restless with fear and exhausted from waiting? Seek Jesus and practice peace with His loving words of truth. 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:19 (NIV)

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 26:3-4 (NIV)

Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:39 (NIV)

For he himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:14 (NIV)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 1 Corinthians 14:33 (NIV)

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:20 (NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

The God of peace be with you all. Amen. Romans 15:33 (NIV)

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you; 
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Honing Hope

Hope paced aimlessly back and forth, slinging her arms then wringing her hands. Earlier her daughter stormed out of the house, angry over parental rules and restrictions. The light of day surrendered to the shade of nightfall. With no word of her child’s whereabouts, Hope’s mind whirled with worry. Fear and foreboding slowly crept upward from her legs into her heart, penetrating like a knife. “Oh Lord, what am I going to do?” she cried uncontrollably.  

Human woes darken divergent minds. Conflicting beliefs converge in the souls of those who allow angst to dominate. The body reacts to a mind at odds, nearly collapsing from distress. Who comes to the aid of the afflicted? What inspires a firm stance in the face of threatening troubles? The answer—trust in the name of Jesus Christ. 

No ifs, ands, or butts about it. Jesus supplies strength to walk through the storms of life. He accompanies us, sometimes carrying us. His provisions of love, hope, grace, and peace provide the necessary courage to withstand trials and temptations. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), a helpmate in weathering the world’s torrential downpours. He is our Hope in a hopeless environment.   

Living a life without complete faith in the One true God smacks of cutting an apple in half with a dull knife. Sounds odd, I know, but stay with me. An unsharpened blade will likely skid along the surface of fruit, slipping and cutting your finger. A sharpened blade will slice directly into fruit, yielding desired results. 

Not honing the cutting edge of a knife actually leads to more danger, believe it or not. It takes more pressure to chop food with a blunt blade than with a razor-edged one. Keeping the tool fine-tuned makes it ready for use when preparing various edibles. Regularly sharpening a knife is key in providing control of its use. 

Like a sharpened knife is vital to safely cutting foods, a disciplined life in the ways of Christ is crucial to hope and faith in Him, especially in turbulence. Remember the reaction of Hope with the disappearance of her daughter? She spent a tremendous amount of energy in fear and trembling. If only she had steeped herself in the Word of God, she could have peacefully stood firm on His promises. Honing hope would have provided the trust she needed in Jesus Christ. 

Work out your faith in the One who is completely trustworthy. He supplies everything you need at the right time—He is faithful. Sharpen your senses to the ways of the Lord. Believe on the name of Jesus. Hone hope!

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20 (NIV)

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. Psalm 65:5 (NIV)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121 (NIV)

This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17 (NIV)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NASB)