Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The God of Past, Present, and Future

History repeats itself, or so it’s been stated. Over time the world has seen empires rise and fall, wars begin and end, people unify and divide. Comparable circumstances replicate on the world stage past and present. Different people encounter the same situations. And because we’re all sinners, we tend to make the same mistakes over and over again. Humans struggle with sin. When will we ever learn?

The history recorded in God’s holy Word, the Bible, contains rehashed scenarios of sin and salvation throughout the centuries. People repeat sins. God repeats His message. Our Heavenly Father provides instructions for living life the way He intended and we repeatedly disobey His commands. His laws are for our good, and still we allow doubt and pride to prevent us from making good choices. Why do we continually choose disobedience?

Eve and Adam violated God’s command. God pronounced judgement while also planning deliverance from sin. Yet sin spread as people populated the earth. Satan worked to destroy God’s children. God worked out His salvation plan through them. He chose to spread His blessings to the nations through His servant Abraham. While He knew His children would continually doubt His goodness, God made a covenant with Abraham to demonstrate His faithfulness. This covenant meant commitment between mankind and Himself. Breaking the pact meant death to the traitor. Eventually someone would break the vow and someone would pay the price.

It happened repeatedly—God’s covenant broken by humanity. Rules and regulations were broken. The covenant was broken. The Ten Commandments were broken. Prophet after prophet delivered God’s warning about the consequences of sin and disobedience. People ignored it. But God loved His people too much to allow the tempter’s power to overcome them. Satan desired to destroy them. God desired to save them. 

Finally the time was right for the consequences of the broken covenant to be fulfilled. Someone would have to die. It should have been mankind, instead it was God through Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Life, eternal life. God repeatedly instructed His people about choosing life. Repeatedly they disobeyed and chose death, breaking the covenant. God’s love caused Him to offer His life as a sacrifice for the sins of His people. 

Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God sacrificed Himself for the sinful world. What should have happened to humans happened to God instead. The God of the universal loved humanity so much that He willingly died for the whole world. He suffered the consequences of our disobedience. He carried the sins of the world to the cross. He died a traitor’s death for the broken covenant.

Satan thought it was over. He thought He had beaten God. But on the third day, Jesus arose from the dead in victory. Neither sin nor death could hold Him—He is God. His resurrection offers us new life.

It’s the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The God of grace offers us forgiveness for our sinful disobedience. Jesus died in our place so that we could live with Him abundantly on earth and eternally in heaven. What an awesome Savior God. 

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (The Message)

But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Son, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own sons.  Galatians 4:4-5 (TLB)

"The Gospel" by Ryan Stevenson.....

"No Other Name" by Hillsong.....

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Plan of Salvation

Caught in the act—caught red handed. Spotting forbidden fruit, she had succumbed to temptation. The pressure of her mind’s conflict temporarily subsided when she convinced herself of a must-have. Then she crossed the line. She violated a law. She committed a wrong. Now the burden of her decision increased the struggle. Consequences would now follow. And regret asks why did I do it?

Most likely we all have landed in situations where we’ve succumbed to temptation. Rules and regulations exist, but sometimes we choose not to obey them. We question authority. We believe we know best. We follow our will instead of God’s. Because we refuse to heed His message, we create a mess. 

Throughout the ages people have disregarded God’s instructions. Even though rules are meant for mankind’s protection, many people see them as roadblocks to their own objectives. Adam and Eve doubted and disobeyed God’s command. Consequences resulted. But God had a plan of salvation. The Israelites wandered in the desert and disobeyed God’s commandments. Consequences resulted, but God had a plan of salvation. King David desired another man’s wife and disregarded God’s law. Consequences resulted, but God had a plan of salvation. 

The Bible contains story after story of sinful human beings who chose to disobey God’s law. Oh what consequences they endured. Even today the human story is filled with sinful acts against God. It feels as though we are drowning in consequences. When mankind succumbs to the tempter’s power, lives are damaged and destroyed. But God had a plan of salvation. 

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Romans 5:6 (NIV)

Have you felt powerless in the struggle with good and evil? Have you yielded to temptation? Is your life a mess because of wrongdoing? There is One who can change your life. His name is Jesus. He is God’s plan of salvation. 

We deserved death as the consequence to our transgressions. But God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to save us from our sins. Jesus Christ died in our place. He is willing to take away our sin and clean us up with a shower of grace. He offers forgiveness. Will we accept His offering? Or will we choose to continue in our disobedience? 

Allow God to speak to you with this video about God's plan of salvation and the reversal of sin……

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Open Defiance

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.  Psalm 119:60 NIV

We followed the hostess to a table in the Japanese Steakhouse. My husband and I anticipated a wonderful night out eating Teppanyaki style with our little boy and his grandparents. While the hostess turned on the iron griddle, I picked up my two-year-old son and explained how the chefs would cook our food on the table. “It will be very hot in the middle. Don’t touch!” I said. 

Before I could position him in the booster seat, he leaned over to touch the center of the table and screamed. He burned his finger. Everyone quickly set about to ease his pain, but the consequences of his defiance would smolder for a while. Disobedience comes with a price. 

Why then do we disobey? No one delights in consequences. No one seeks to suffer. No one yearns to pay the price. But when we choose poorly, detrimental consequences result. Why do we continue to make destructive choices?

The answer lies in the choices made by God’s creation in the Garden of Eden. Eve and Adam chose to disobey God, even while surrounded with abundant blessings. The prohibited tree’s fruit delightfully appealed to their sense of sight. And they figured if it yielded more wisdom as the serpent said, why not try it? Right? Wrong. Instantly they regretted their decision. Have you ever experienced similar remorse?

The allure of temptation pulls us where we assume we want to go. The stimulating sights of forbidden fruit seduce our hearts and persuade our minds. Usually on an impulse, we allow temptation to convince us of satisfaction in the moment. Once we’ve done what we knew we shouldn’t do, regret fills us. Consequences follow. Why did we do it?

Temptation causes our human struggle. Since creation mankind has been enticed by a hellish spiritual power embodied in Satan. With lies he has tried to usurp God’s power throughout the ages. He fell from heaven because he desired to surpass Almighty God. He aspired to be enthroned high above the clouds. He yearned to be God. His pride said, “I will make myself like the Most High God.”

‘Pride goes before a fall’ is an old proverb remembered for years. It actually comes from the Old Testament in the book of Proverbs. From the eighteenth verse of the sixteenth chapter it reads, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” 

Pride is a longing for unlimited glory, the glory belonging only to Almighty God, and elevates oneself above all others. The verse from Proverbs warns of pride’s consequences. It has happened to many people throughout time. It’s what happened to Satan. His haughty spirit created a disdain for God and His creatures. He desperately longed to be god above Creator God. Pride consumed him and caused his fall from grace. 

God says of Satan in Isaiah:

How you have fallen from heaven,
    morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
    to the depths of the pit. (verses 12-15)

With pride Satan exalted himself in heaven. With power God cast him out of heaven. In revenge Satan wants to destroy everything God created and loves. Because of his disdain for God, the devil desires to destroy God’s children. He wants to ruin you and me.

Whatever he can do to damage us, he will do. He is behind pride, selfishness, temptation, sin, death, and every evil of the world. He is the father of lies. He wants to prevent you, your family, your church, and the world from listening to and obeying God. He is behind the struggles you daily face. 

The apostle Paul wrote about the human struggle in his letter to the Romans. He said:

Don’t you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it. The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong. So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead. But the law code itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.  Romans 7:8-12 (MSG)

Paul declares God’s law is good. God gave His law out of love to protect us from the consequences of sin and temptation. Remember what I said to my little son about the hot griddle in front of him? I even commanded his obedience with a “don’t touch” because of the possible danger to him. But he chose disobedience. Adam and Eve chose disobedience. At times I have chosen disobedience. Consequences always follow disobedience. 

Because of the human struggle, God’s law stirs up sin in us. So God planned a better way to protect us, to save us from our sins. He alludes to it in Genesis 3:15 as well as throughout Scripture. Eventually His promise of a Savior sent to save us was fulfilled. A man nailed to a cross lies at the center of redemption from temptation and sin. Salvation rests in the God-man named Jesus. 

Consider this week times of your own disobedience. Why did you disobey and how did it make you feel? No matter how bad you’ve disregarded authority and violated laws, there is a God who desires to forgive you and save you from your sins. He is Jesus Christ. Come back next week to learn more about Him. 

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.  Deuteronomy 11:1 (NIV)

"Create in Me a Clean Heart" by Fountainview Academy......