Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Wonder of God

“If you receive a spanking at school, know that you will also be spanked when you get home,” my daddy told me and my sisters when we were young. Years ago before the moral shift took over our country, teachers had the authority to spank unruly kids in the classroom. My dad ruled with a loving but firm hand in our household (Proverbs 13:24). He was the head of the house and together with my mom, they had authority over us, their daughters. I did not want to disappoint my daddy, so I behaved at school. 

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness. Psalm 33:18 (NASB)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10 (NASB)

Over the years authority seems to have been demeaned and cheapened. No respect and no fear undermines those in charge. The pervasiveness of such an attitude includes indifference for our God, the Creator of the world. Numerous people overlook the God of the universe, disregarding His Sovereignty and offering little reverence. Yet His authority rules and judges all of creation. We should fear Him with a sense of wonderment, admiration, and esteem.

Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes. Psalm 36:1 (NASB)

Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Psalm 33:8 (NASB)

Disobedience seems to be increasing as more and more people rebel against authority. Reckless living is producing many prodigals (I pray for their repentance like the biblical prodigal in Luke 15). Everyone may not have a loving earthly father or mother, but all of mankind has a faithful and devoted Abba Father or Daddy God. It’s our choice whether to have a relationship with Him. Do we desire to please Him with our awe-filled worship and obedience or do we elect to dishonor Him with our disobedience and disregard?

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate. Proverbs 8:13 (NASB)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10 (NASB)

Awe, or “AHHHH” as I like to say, pours from my heart and lips when I gaze at the heavens and all of God’s works. Wow! The Mastermind behind the design of our galaxy also fashioned you and me. What an Architect. He is the Author of our lives, the Writer of our stories when we concede to His will. Does His genius cause us to stop and contemplate the workings of His Hands? Do we respect the authority He holds, the commands He instituted? Do we fear Him with the reverence due the Almighty God? Do we desire the approval of our Daddy God?

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. Psalm 128:1 (NASB)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NASB)

I learned valuable lessons from my earthly father and he taught me much about our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Recently I traveled home to visit my mom and read an article about my dad in a newspaper dated 1959—still learning from him even after his death. A writer had interviewed my dad because of his position as new pastor in a small town. He said of my dad, “and a young man saw God’s works manifest to all who had eyes with which to see.” 

The writer described my dad’s experience on a ship while in the U.S. Navy. One particular night my dad’s ship struggled in the waters of a tropical storm. Clouds covered the night stars and darkness nearly swallowed them. But waking up to peaceful surroundings and a calm sea caused my dad to take notice of creation. He said, “When I looked toward the horizon, the sun was hanging there big and beautiful. To see it in contrast to the night before was enough to make anyone realize that there is a Divine Power.” 

Think about it. All of creation exists right before our eyes. Do we stop and respectfully take notice of the Creator’s works? Are we so wowed that we fall to our knees and worship? Do we fearfully gaze at the works of His hands with the desire to obey His commands (Romans 1)?

Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments. Psalm 112:1 (NASB)

The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. Psalm 25:14 (NASB)

The God who created us is the One who will judge us for our thoughts, words, and deeds. His authority rules over everything in creation. And He gave all authority to His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18, Mark 1:22). A good daddy has authority over his offspring and properly corrects them for misdeeds. His children then grow to respect and obey their father. Like wholesome respect for an earthly dad who disciplines with love, we should fearfully hold in high regard our Heavenly Father with an understanding of the consequences of disobedience, choosing instead to obey Him. 

Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever! Deuteronomy 5:29 (NKJV)

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” Exodus 20:20 (NASB)

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord……Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:11,13-14 (NKJV)

Be intentional about obedience to all in authority, unless it conflicts with the Word of God. Give honor and glory to the Holy One whose authority reigns over us all. Stand in awe and worship the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Surrender to the supremacy of God the Creator and God the Redeemer. Fear the name above all names and offer your reverence to the Sovereign Lord God. Read God’s Word to gain the wisdom and knowledge of an Almighty God. 

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV)

So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west and His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream which the wind of the Lord drives. Isaiah 59:19 (NASB)

Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You. Psalm 119:38 (NKJV)

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:5 (NKJV)

As Ruth Bell Graham (Billy Graham’s wife) once said, “Fear of the Lord puts all other fears in proper perspective.”

The following quote from a biblical source summarizes the awe we should give to the Lord God: “The fear of God is an attitude of respect, a response of reverence and wonder. It is the only appropriate response to our Creator and Redeemer” (Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, 1997, note on Psalm 128:1).

Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. Psalm 128:1 (NKJV)

Worship the Lord with this beautiful song entitled "Even Now" written by Brent Anderson and sung by Cape First Worship.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Life with Abba Father

Death is inevitable for all of us. If you haven’t already experienced the death of a loved one or a close friend, you will eventually. I recently lost an aunt to cancer. Ten years ago my dad died and from my heart poured the words of the poem below. No matter whether you suffer death, distanced relationships, disease, or destruction, God the Father loves you and desires a relationship with you. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and if you believe in His Son Jesus Christ, you will live an eternal life with Him, your Abba Father (Daddy God). As you encounter earthly sorrows, I pray the words He gave me will bless your heart with His peace and strength (Psalm 29:11). 

Daddy God

What a Father we have in heaven above,
Truly faithful and full of love.
“Call me Abba,” He says with a smile,
As we yearn to delight in His rest for a while.

My family and I need a hug from the Father.
Our Daddy God loves us like no other.
He knows our needs in times of distress.
His Hands hold our tears, those Hands surely bless.

Heavenly Father gave us such a great dad.
Perfect, by no means, but what a blessing we had!
He led by example, teaching so much,
Offering a firm yet loving paternal touch.

God gave us time to gather ‘round dad,
As death’s shadow encompassed his bed.
We lovingly surrounded him while holding his hands,
As he left earth to fulfill the Father’s plans.

We know he’s in heaven, free from pain.
He lives with clouds of witnesses where our Eternal Father reigns.
One day we’ll join the heavenly throng,
Praising the Almighty with a joyous song!

DDC 2005

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones. Psalm 116:15 (NASB)

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15 (NASB)

Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6 (NASB)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1 (NASB)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Experience the Helper

And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:9 (NASB)

He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:15 (NASB)

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; John 10:27 (NASB)

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 1 Peter 3:15 (NASB)

Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you, Proverbs 2:9-11 (NASB)

EAR           hear         HEART 

Two parts of the body identified with hearing 


What is missing? Why does life seem empty? Where is God?

If you’ve asked such questions, you’re not alone. People continually search for life’s meaning—prodigals enter the dregs of society searching for feel good moments. Do they ever discover and unwrap the precious gift of a life fulfilled in Christ Jesus?

Scripture tells us over and over again that if we seek with our whole hearts, then we will find a treasure! And that treasure is God. Scripture also says where your heart is, there will be your treasure (Matthew 6:21). What is your treasure? What do you desire? Are you missing anything?

The disciples kept missing proof of God’s saving grace right before their eyes. They simply didn’t understand it all. Of course none of us will fully comprehend who God is until we stand face-to-face with Him. In the meantime, let’s review some facts from our journey up the mountain into the cloud with Jesus and His disciples and recognize Him as our Helper.

Overwhelming fear grew within the disciples as they observed the radiance of their friend Jesus on the mountaintop. And there talking with Him stood Elijah and Moses. Shocked and surprised, Peter quickly said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Mark 9:5)

Most likely the Israelites previously celebrated a joyous annual festival called “The Feast of Tabernacles” where they resided in booths or tents for a week (in our time as well, the Jews recently completed the observation of this festival). Their celebrations included remembering God’s past provision during their forty-year wilderness journey and it commemorated God’s present provision with the completion of the fall harvest. Their prayers during this feast asked for the future provision of rain for new crops. 

What has God done for you in the past? How has He supplied your needs? Do you look to Him as your “daily bread” and give thanks for His provision? Are you trusting Him to supply all your needs and relying on Him to carry you into the future?

All in all, “The Feast of Tabernacles” emphasized the Messiah’s return to set up His future Kingdom with the ingathering (or harvest) of His people where He will tabernacle (or dwell) with them. It was a foretaste of the feast to come with God’s people living peacefully in secure dwellings. Peter and the disciples, along with all Hebrew people, waited for their Messiah. When Peter spoke of setting up tabernacles (shelters, booths, tents) for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses, it’s as if He somewhat understood the messianic age upon them. Remember He declared Jesus as the Christ (or Messiah). Yet we also know from Scripture that Peter had a long way to go before He totally understood Jesus the Messiah and His mission. 

Do we understand this Jesus Christ and His mission? Do we understand the power we can access? If we believe on His Name, we can literally experience a spiritual explosion. 

As Peter, James, and John descended the mountain with Jesus, He told them to keep silent about their experience until He rose from the dead. The words rising from the dead sparked questions among the disciples. Jesus talked with them several times about this matter during His life on earth, but His followers lacked understanding. After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, an experience during Pentecost revealed the answers. 

Finally knowledge and comprehension cleared their muddled minds. The disciples encountered a spiritual explosion when God sent His Holy Spirit, the Helper, at Pentecost. Peter, the one who earlier denied Jesus, grasped the mission of Jesus the Messiah. A forgiven man now full of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached to those around him about the redemptive grace of His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah—many believed and were saved. I don’t mean to be trite or disrespectful but as Billy Wilder said, “Hindsight is always 20/20.”

We live in the 20/20 era and can read about the experiences of God and His people in the Holy Bible. The Word of the Lord through Peter and other writers of Scripture reside in this book withstanding the test of time and available in many languages. We can read and meditate on the Word (Jesus Christ) of God, and when we believe in His name, He dwells (or tabernacles) within us. We can ascend the mountaintop and experience the Helper. We can dwell deep within the valley and still experience the Helper. We can face each day, come what may, experiencing the Helper. When clouds gather, we can experience the Holy Spirit through faith like Peter and the disciples did after Pentecost.

In a seemingly perfect life with no storms we become complacent. Without rain we become dry. Storms and rains provide growth and rainbows. Obstacles and challenges offer chances to trust God and increase faith. Like the Israelites who offered thanks to their Provider during the Feast of Tabernacles, we can celebrate His providence—past, present, and future. He is the Bread of Life. He is Immanuel which means God with us (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23). He is our Helper.

What life issues are troubling you? Are you weighted down with difficulties? Do you need help? Climb your mountain, put your head in the clouds, and listen to the voice of God and His Word. Relinquish your burdens and render praises to the One who resides in you and walks with you from past to future. Worship your Messiah now…..

for King & Country singing "Shoulders"

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever. Psalm 121 (NASB)

“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
“I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her needy with bread.
“Her priests also I will clothe with salvation,
And her godly ones will sing aloud for joy. Psalm 132:14-16 (NASB)

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him.
The Lord is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalm 28:7-9 (NASB)

Before reading the psalm below, understand the word selah (pronounced see lah). It means pause and reflect or meditate. It also refers to a strong city surrounded by mountains. Take time to stop, look, and listen to His voice.

God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us— Selah.
That Your way may be known on the earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For You will judge the peoples with uprightness
And guide the nations on the earth. Selah.
Let the peoples praise You, O God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him. Psalm 67 (NASB)

Understand the Helper is the Holy Spirit and He grants us the same power that rose Jesus from the dead. Click on the link below and listen to "Same Power" by Jeremy Camp.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Listen to the Cloud Maker

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35 (NASB)

I am the bread of life. John 6:48 (NASB)

Alright now get your heads out of the clouds and come down from the mountain, but keep your hearts and ears open for the voice of the Lord as we walk through Mark's words from the eighth and ninth chapters. 

The Transfiguration transpired. Jesus radiated exceedingly bright light as He stood beside Old Testament leaders, Elijah and Moses—visualize this scene as proof of an Almighty God. From an all-consuming cloud, the disciples heard God’s voice telling them to listen to His Son. The Lord desired for them to hear His words proclaimed from the mouth of the One walking beside them. I like to think He also reminded them of the previous nuggets of revelation Jesus gave them prior to ascending Mt. Tabor. Listen with your own ears as we touch on matters the disciples missed.

Before Jesus transfigured on the mountain, He and His disciples traveled back and forth upon the Sea of Galilee visiting various villages surrounding the water. Earlier while in the Decapolis region, Jesus performed the miracle of feeding 4000 people with seven large baskets full of leftovers. Later arriving in the district of Dalmanutha, He contended with Pharisees who demanded a sign from heaven. Jesus grieved deeply because their righteous pretense prevented an understanding of Him as the perfect sign of a loving God sent from heaven. They overlooked His sovereignty, interested only in rules and regulations. 

Are we caught up in legalism, missing the One before us? God desires for us to wear His righteousness rather than putting on our righteous religious activity. Through the ages God has told His people to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). Beware of those who redirect God’s truth and cause us to become confused and distracted by man’s truth.

Hopping back in the boat with His disciples, Jesus attempted to explain this leaven (which means sin) of the Pharisees to His disciples. He yearned for them to understand how the Pharisees reroute His truth for their truth. All the while the disciples focused solely on the lack of bread in their boat, forgetting how Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people with only a few loaves of bread and fish. Physical neediness overpowered spiritual receptiveness. 

Jesus’ spirit lamented because His followers didn’t seem to understand that the Breadwinner sat before them. They chose instead to concentrate on the lack of bread. He joined their conversation with a barrage of challenges, provoking their memory of two specific times when He performed miracles of feeding huge crowds with a small supply of bread and fish. Don’t you see, can’t you hear, and do you remember were His questions to them. Their answers were brief and lacked depth. 

Are we missing the Bread of Life who supplies all our needs by centering on our lack of material goods? Do we allow our circumstances of death and detachment to grow large before our eyes, obstructing the view of our Life Provider? Do our situations become so loud that we miss the silent Presence of our All-Powerful God? Jesus desires for us to trust Him when life gets complicated. Didn’t He feed 4000 people who were hungry? 

When the disciples and their Teacher arrived upon the shore of Bethsaida, people brought a blind man to Jesus. Twice Jesus laid hands upon this man’s eyes, ultimately restoring his sight. A miracle performed right before the disciples’ eyes about seeing clearly. Did they see and understand yet the God-man before them?

As the disciples and Jesus continued traveling on foot, He questioned His disciples saying, “Who do people say that I am?” Some of their answers included John the Baptist and various prophets. 

He continued by asking fervently, “But who do you say that I am?” Daily He walked miles and traveled stormy seas with these guys. What would be their answer?

Peter immediately spoke up and said, “You are the Christ!” to which Jesus responded with descriptions of His impending death and resurrection as Savior of the world. He laid out His earthly mission which caused Peter to rebuke Him. Jesus' details of salvation didn't match the dreams of a Jewish Messiah. 

Looking around at all of His disciples, Jesus’ responded immediately to Satan who used Peter to speak. Jesus rebuked Satan for setting his mind on human interests instead of the acts of God. Then He explained the need to deny self, sacrifice earthly concerns, and follow Him. 

Six days later Jesus’ transfiguration took place, giving three of His disciples a stunning example of His power. And when the cloud gathered around them, God’s voice told them to listen to Jesus, to observe and hear with understanding His teachings.

Consider your life for a moment. Have you experienced God’s faithfulness and now find yourself in season of trouble and doubt? Maybe you’ve never known of His love and mercy. Possibly the shadows of life’s anxieties appear to be engulfing you.  

What do you do when clouds gather? Is your vision and hearing muddled by gray clouds? Do you stare up in fear as dark clouds converge? Take time to stop, look, and listen for the voice in the clouds. He’s there. 

Prepare to return next week clothed in hiking gear. We’re going back up the mountain away from distractions to sit at the feet of our Helper. Ready your heart, open your eyes, and tune your ears to the Father and His voice. Listen......

For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” John 6:33 (NASB)

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” John 6:51