Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Revelations of Rolling Clouds

Each time he said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (TLB)

I noticed strange light penetrating the windows as I groggily peered outside. It’s 5:30 in the morning. What’s going on? Grabbing my housecoat, I stumbled downstairs and walked out my back door. I noticed clouds like huge cotton balls moving swiftly across the sky. The patchy cumulus clouds flowed like receding ocean water. 

They soon rolled away revealing the reason why night seemed brighter than usual. A dazzling full moon with a big glittering star beside it lit up the clear dark blue sky. “Absolutely gorgeous, God. Only you can reveal such beauty,” I said out loud, “especially after three gloomy days of rain.” 

Energetically I walked inside for coffee and quiet time with the LORD, but soon my heart grew heavy. Through prayer God revealed names of people in agony from physical ailments, a loved one’s death, a prodigal child, suicide, and the consequences of sin. Dreary weather might generate downcast people but continuous sorrow and anguish—how do people deal with it day in and day out? What must our Heavenly Father see across the universe as His children cope with incessant suffering, especially at night?

Alone and tired, tears increase as fears loom larger in the middle of the night. Daily chores may momentarily distract us from the misery in our minds, but hours of darkness intensify gloom and doom. The truth of weakness invades souls and a strong desire to be rescued emerges. Guess who completely understands? Our Savior and Deliverer Jesus Christ.         

One dark night in Gethsemane’s Garden, Jesus completely experienced human weakness as He pleaded with His Heavenly Father to take away the suffering He was to endure. He knew why He had come to earth, He understood what the morning would bring, and He cried out to God for a different answer. Earlier He asked His disciples to watch and pray with Him, but they failed Him several times. He agonized alone in fervent prayer, while His sweat dropped to the ground as blood. Imagine His weariness, His loneliness, His dread until Heavenly Father poured strength into His soul. Standing up in mighty power, He prepared to fulfill His mission on earth. Thanks be to God!

Be reminded of a God who understands His children. Being fully human, He experienced humanity’s emotions. Being fully divine, He conquered sin, death, and the devil. Don’t forget how Satan desires to lure us away from the power of God’s grace. Remember the Almighty God who loves each one of us enough to sacrifice His life for our salvation.

Visualizing a full moon and bright stars after several dreary days of rain issued peace within my soul. I was reminded how clouds do not separate me from the wonder of God because His Word says clouds are the dust of His feet. He is always nearby, promising never to leave us. We can trust Him, even on our dreariest day. 

When clouds cover the sky or your situation becomes overcast, allow God and the truth of His Word to pierce the darkness. Look to the Cloud-Maker as He rolls back the murky veil from your face. See His feet in your clouds and walk with Him. Peer through your situation into the splendor beyond. God always works in your life for your good and His glory. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

From Pain to Praise

I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings;
I shall pay You my vows,
Which my lips uttered
And my mouth spoke when I was in distress. Psalm 66:13-14 (NASB)

Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” 1 Samuel 1:8-11 (NASB)

Poor Hannah! Lived in shame and humiliation because of her barrenness and the provocation of Peninnah. Imagine enduring taunts daily from a second wife. 

Yes, that’s right. Hannah and Peninnah shared the same husband named Elkanah. Most likely Hannah and Elkanah were married for ten years before Peninnah joined the family. According to Jewish law, if a man and woman were childless after ten years of marriage, the man took a second wife in order to fulfill the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. 

Over time Peninnah delivered many children and Hannah encountered her insults with each passing day. In the community, whispers penetrated her ears. It’s as if Hannah daily walked with a gray and gloomy cloud over her head, producing a deluge of tears. Her distressed soul wept bitterly, affecting her husband. Elkanah asked, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” What heartache she endured! 

Yet one day Hannah determined to go to the temple of God. On one of the annual trips to Shiloh (an assembly place for Israelite worship), where Elkanah yearly worshiped and sacrificed to the Lord, she rose early and prayed near the temple doorpost. As tears fell, her lips silently motioned her heartfelt vow to the Lord God. “Please Lord, if you give me a son, I will offer him to You all the days of His life,” she promised.

Eli, the priest on duty at the temple, considered her drunk and reprimanded her. She dismissed his claims, explaining her desire to empty her burdened soul before the Lord. Compassionately Eli blessed her with peace and the expectation of a validated request. Receiving favor she walked away uplifted.

Did Hannah receive the fruit of her bidding? Was she steadfast to her vow? Yes and yes. She gave birth to a son. She later returned to the temple and dedicated him to the Lord for his lifetime. The second chapter of the first book of Samuel is bursting with her thanksgiving to the One and Only Almighty God. “My heart exults in the Lord. I rejoice in Your salvation,” she proclaimed. 

Have difficulties rolled off your lips while pouring out your heart to God? What troubles have you mouthed to the Lord? Have you received answered prayers or a time of waiting? 

No matter what cloudy circumstances threaten you, remember He knows and cares for you. He is Immanuel, God with us. In the center of your sorrows, offer Him your burdens with humility and give Him the sacrifice of praise. 

O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:15-17 (NASB)

Take your praises to the Lord with this song....

Praise God in your waiting with this song by Greg Long.....

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hear My Cry, O Lord

How can we experience the life-altering freedom of God’s grace? By humbling ourselves before a Mighty God in the midst of our tribulations and rendering praise to Him.

I shall come into Your house with burnt offerings;
I shall pay You my vows,
Which my lips uttered
And my mouth spoke when I was in distress. Psalm 66:13-14 (NASB)

O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:15-17 (NASB)

“While I was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
And my prayer came to You,
Into Your holy temple.
“Those who regard vain idols
Forsake their faithfulness,
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving.
That which I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation is from the Lord.” Jonah 2:7-9 (NASB)

Help Lord, come quickly.
I am in distress—my soul endures much torment.
Oppressive is my burden, its weight crushes me. 

My friends dismiss my sorrow. 
My family mocks my shame.
I can’t bear the pain. 

Answer me, Lord, my heart wails before You.
Hurry! I need You.

You bless me with abundance.
You walk alongside in poverty.
Daily my mind knows of Your presence,
But looking around, all I see is emptiness.
Are You beside me in the pit?

Age upon age, time after time You prove Your dependable love.
You are faithful.
Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs wrestled with Your ways, yet received mercy and grace.
You are faithful.
Prophets of old foretold Your salvation.
You are faithful.
Modern-day missionaries exemplify Your strength. 
You are faithful.
Your truth exists in nature; Your renown rises daily.
You are faithful.

Because of who You are, I offer penitence and pay my vows.
I present burnt offerings while making requests,
You are worthy of sacrifice and praise.

In my distress, I make a promise;
To give up the reality of my request, if only You will fulfill it. 
In the blessing, I sacrifice.
I am only human.

But You, O Lord, didn’t wait for repentance.
You sacrificed Your life for the unworthy.
You demonstrated an offering of pure love.

My gift of a senseless sacrifice or petty penance,
As if working for You, is not what You want from me.
You desire my brokenness, my humility.

In complete surrender, I submit a contrite heart,
And You clean it up for me.

You receive my sacrifice of humility and praise.
You hear my prayer when I disregard wickedness.
Come quickly, Lord, and save me from my circumstances.

Will You make changes to my situation? 
Maybe not, yet I come before Your throne and ask with boldness. 
Even if nothing is different, my lips will continue to sing Your praises,
Because You are faithful.

I stand firm with Your hand upon me, 
As the storm prevails against me and around.

To Your glory, Lord God, I live my life,
And I praise You because You hear my cry for help.
You are faithful.

Hannah (1 Samuel 1) and her barrenness filled my mind as I wrote this verse. She struggled with her barrenness until she released it to God. He heard her cries and eventually she delivered a son, offering Him to the Lord. 

Life is full of troubles and heartaches. Tears fall as we cry out to God and wonder if He hears. KNOW THAT HE DOES! Whatever your situation, may your lips praise God as your offer Him your trials. Trust Him to handle your life with purposeful grace and believe all things work for the good of those whose God is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Worship with Matt Maher as he sings "Lord, I Need You"......

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hope Against Hope

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:18-21 (NASB)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Psalm 39:7 (NIV)

What a rainy winter! This El Nino effect is about to affect my soul. Cloudy days and flooding rains—I’m so tired of this weather. Gloomy hearts and angry rants—I’m tired of evil’s persuasion on earth, in my family. Where’s the sun? Where’s the Son? 

Because of scientific proof, I know the sun hangs in the heavens as planets revolve around it. Even if clouds obscure the sun, I experience night and day every twenty-four hours. This evidence provides me with certainty that the sun, even when not visible, is out there in space. And I’m fully persuaded that the sun will shine again. 

Because the Bible tells me so, I know the Son of God, Jesus Christ, sacrificed His life to save me and all of creation from sin and death. Even if somber circumstances cloud my faith in the Son, I experience His strength and peace when I devote my mind and heart to Him. This evidence provides me with hope for the fulfillment of His promises to me. And I’m fully persuaded that God has the power to do what He has promised. 

In order to remain persuaded, I need to hope against hope. The Lord has promised good to me. I’ve heard His plans and promises for my life and my loved ones. His Word is Truth and I believe Him. But when I gaze at the circumstances of my life, it appears as though He has failed me. Did He really mean what He said? Will it really happen as He said? Should I help Him figure it out and make it happen?

Abraham in hope against hope believed God’s promise of a son born to Sarah and him. But the wait time between the promise and its fulfillment lingered. The evidence of God’s Word eluded Abraham and Sarah for a long time. Maybe that’s why they interfered with God’s plan and attempted to assist Him, culminating in the birth of Ishmael. 

As Sarah and Abraham discovered, God didn’t need help. The promised son would be born in God’s way and God’s timing. Eventually their hope became reality at the birth of Isaac. Can you imagine the joy they experienced when they held God’s promise in their arms?

Hope reigns in the Word of God. From Genesis to Revelation, stories of hope fill the pages. While adversity surrounded them, patriarchs and prophets held onto hope. The evidence of God’s faithfulness in their daily lives provided them with the certainty of future promises fulfilled. Some of these Biblical personalities lived to realize their hope, the confidence of the promised future. Others only heard of it and dreamed. But they believed (read about some of them in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews).

Are you in the midst of hope? Does it seem as though your prayers have fallen on deaf ears? The answers to these questions—keep on hoping and no they haven’t. The evidence of God’s faithfulness in your daily life is proof His promises will be fulfilled. Yes, you may be surrounded by troubles piercing your heart with agonizing pain. But notice the rising sun each day and the glow of moon and stars at night. Remember a Savior who suffered excruciating torment for a sinful world—envision His resurrection. The God in charge of creation and redemption can definitely handle our problems. He is able!

He is able and we must hold onto hope. The Promise-Maker is a Promise-keeper—Abraham’s life gives testimony. Yet even if we don’t realize God’s promise in our lifetime, fulfillment will happen in His time. His Word is Truth. His Truth walks His timeline!

Hope against hope for the fulfillment of a certain future! Faith says hope will see promises kept. Walk in assurance, being fully persuaded that God has the power to accomplish His promises. 

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)