Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, September 30, 2018

My Heart's Desire




When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.  Psalm 73:21-28 (NIV)


Letting go of anything is hard. We are worldly. We set our sights on earthly things. Is it even possible to say with the psalmist that earth has nothing I desire besides you? 

What if we truly believed and practiced earth has nothing I desire besides you? What would our lives look like? How would others perceive us? Imagine the glory God would gain through lives lived for Him. 

The psalmist who wrote #73 in the Scriptures declares God is good, to Israel and to those who are pure in heart. Asaph, the psalmist, knew God and His goodness. Yet he became consumed with the wealth of the arrogant. He almost lost his way. He speaks frankly about being jealous of the prosperity of the wicked. It appeared to him that they had everything, including an easy life. Through the awful trap of comparison, he struggled to understand why life seemed so unfair. 

A right perspective caused his change in perception. He entered the sanctuary of God. Maybe he actually entered the Temple or possibly he went on a retreat. Perhaps he simply got down on his knees and sincerely spoke to God, opening his heart in prayerful meditation. Whatever he did, he found answers. He found refuge. He found peace. 

I’ve been in the place of envy, wondering why other people’s lives look so perfect. They have every material thing possible. All their relationships seem flawless. They succeed and rise to fame in whatever they do. Promotions and salary increases regularly come their way. Why does everything work out for them? Why, Lord, why doesn’t life work out that way for me? 

Oh the bitterness that becomes entrenched in our souls when we focus on others in comparison. We forget about our own gifts and abilities. We forget who we are. We forget what we have. We become senseless. As Asaph puts it, 

When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

Do we realize we are negating who God made us to be? We are basically complaining to our Creator about His creation. How does our dissatisfaction affect God’s heart? I’m sure He grieves, yet He continues to yearn for His children to be satisfied in Him. 

I look at myself and see that Almighty God has blessed me with gifts and talents, with a loving family and a roof over my head. All that I have, I offer Him thanks. All that I am, I humbly bow before Him in gratitude. I will remember who He has made me to be. 

I will praise the God who loves me, no matter what I’ve done or not done. As long as I truly enter His sanctuary with an honest, humble heart, He redirects my path. He holds my hand and walks me through my angst. He strengthens me and gives me peace, even as I face the storms of life. Why on earth would I desire anything more? He IS all I need. 

From this day forward, I will remind myself of what I have learned in His sanctuary. I will let go of the stuff of life and cling only to Him. This is my “letting go” to do list:

~Letting go of jealousy and envy
~Letting go of debilitating grudges
~Letting go of worry and fear
~Letting go of resentment and regret
~Letting go of accumulated stuff and material possessions

I could go on and on. I’m so imperfect. But my Father God is perfect. He is all I need in this life and after. He has been and still is my refuge and strength. He has been and still is my Help whenever I cry out to Him. He has been and still is Faithful and True. I am so grateful to Him. I am so thankful for Him.

I will let go of attitudes and things that distract. I will hold onto the One who satisfies my soul. I know He will hold onto me as we walk through life together. I will say with confidence it is good to be near God. He is my desire.

What do you need to let go of? What distracts you from a good God? Humbly enter His sanctuary with thanksgiving. You’ll quickly realize He can be trusted. You’ll know who He made you to be. You’ll know He is your strength. And you’ll be able to say with the psalmist, “Earth has nothing I desire besides You.”


O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.  Psalm 63:1-4 (NASB)


Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV)

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Do Not Fear


What do you fear? Death, destruction, work, joblessness, homelessness, enemies, hatred, confrontation, trials, divorce, discord, quarrels, loneliness—I could go on and on. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. Fear disrupts our lives. Fear comes from the evil one. 

The devil loves to cause us to fear. Fear keeps our eyes on our situation and off of God. God says, “Do not fear.” Over and over again God tells us in His Word not to fear, not to be afraid, not to worry. Do we listen? Do we follow His instructions?

I wanted to post a simple message today using Scripture in a picture. However, I encountered many problems as I tried to simply post the meme. Little irritating glitches with technology plagued my every move. I stopped and reread the verse. I suddenly realized why I faced obstacles in posting. It’s a verse Satan wants to put aside. 

BUT GOD wants us to hear. And He helped me to persevere. 

This Bible verse has become one of my favorite verses. It is my “go to” verse. God speaks to me through this verse and gives me strength. And He’ll do the same for you. 

Read it over and over again until it strengthens you with peaceful resolve. God is in control. Trust Him with every single situation in your life. It doesn’t matter how big or small your circumstance. God is able. Have faith in Him. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

An Arch of Promise


I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud,  Genesis 9:13-14 (NASB)




When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  Genesis 9:16 (NASB)




An artist stands before her easel, paintbrush in hand. Impressive scenery takes shape on her canvas. Any bystander can gage the size of the artist to the scene she creates. Using this frame of reference, imagine God before His heavenly canopy placing His bow, His rainbow, in a cloud. 

At any time onlookers can gaze at God’s magnificent
scenes in the heavens. When we realize the greatness of our Creator, it becomes easier to comprehend how clouds are the dust of His feet. Those massive billowy forms bear His footprints. He walks among the clouds. He is mighty.

Sometimes those billows bring rain. If they are rolled up ferociously into a hurricane with gale force winds and surging waters, devastation occurs. The southeastern coast of the United States is experiencing such turbulence. My home state of North Carolina, as well as the state of South Carolina, is encountering extreme ruin. Danger, destruction, and clouds surround all residents. Many of my family and friends live there. 

Intense weather has whipped throughout the area. Everyday life has been stripped away. The normal routine has been submerged. It’s back to the basics of life, the barebones of existence. No fluff, only rough. Where is God? And why has He allowed such disaster? 

I don’t understand why this tragedy has occurred. I can’t answer why the God of the universe didn’t stop the hurricane. He is God and I am not. But I do know that He is available to all who call on His name. He meets us where we are. Could it be He wants us to yearn for Him more than anything in this world?

Noah and his family survived a catastrophic flood. They were the only ones who survived. Death and destruction had confined them to the ark. Their old life was gone. They were in survival mode. They lived through forty cloudy days and nights as water swelled around their vessel. Forty straight days and nights of rain and clouds! Were they frightened? Angry? Yearning for their stuff back home? Quite possibly they were sick and tired of clouds. Did they complain? Did they forget God was near?  

I think I can answer those questions with a resounding YES! If I had been on the ark or if I was on North Carolina’s coast right now, I would be crying with fear. I might be screaming WHY while I wished for my old life back. I’m sure I would see the clouds as just clouds and not the dust of His feet. 

Until the day God sets His rainbow in the clouds.

The rainbow was God’s promise to Noah of an everlasting covenant with His people. The rainbow guarantees a brighter day. Hope for tomorrow. The silver lining in the clouds. An array of breathtaking color.

The rainbow calls to remembrance the covenant between God and man. Its appearance reminds us that we are not forgotten. Its beauty awakens us to the presence of an Almighty God. We can celebrate, not only at Christmas time but every single day, the presence of Immanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ. And Jesus promised He would never leave us or forsake us. He is faithful.

Suffering usually strips us of our pretenses. It brings us to our knees, down to the nitty-gritty. And that’s where we can find Jesus waiting on us. To lift us up in times of sorrow, sickness, and sadness. To help us in our times of need. To offer hope when it’s all gone. As Scripture tells us:

God also bound himself with an oath, so that those he promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether he might change his plans.

He has given us both his promise and his oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. Now all those who flee to him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without doubt that he will give them the salvation he has promised them.

This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven, where Christ has gone ahead to plead for us from his position as our High Priest, with the honor and rank of Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6:17-20 (TLB)

He has made His promise of faithfulness to Noah and to us. He will do it. Do you believe? 










Sunday, September 9, 2018

Treasure of Truth


Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.  2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NASB)




X marks the spot…..

     Somewhere over the rainbow…..
                       

                         Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
                                                


Treasure conjures up many images. A chest full of gold trinkets, beads, coins. A jewelry box containing diamond rings and necklaces. The many irreplaceable things we cling to when loved ones die. Treasures don’t have to be expensive. Where one sees junk, another sees treasure. The value of a treasure depends on its personal worth. 

Since my parents died, I’ve clung to things they left behind. I cherish their belongings more since their departure from this earth. I wear a diamond ring given to my mom by my dad on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It has monetary value, but its worth escalates for me because it was a part of them. 

Through the years I’ve accumulated what I consider precious and priceless treasures. Gifts from my husband, pictures drawn by my children, mementos from my grandchildren, on and on and on. Stuff I embrace. Things I can’t let go. As precious as they are to me, they remain stuff, simply stuff. Why do I cling so tightly to them? 

Questioning the worth of it all, I hear words spoken on a mountain by a very wise teacher. “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus spoke these words to His followers in the Sermon on the Mount. He offered eternal life not material life. The accuracy of His words of wisdom rings true today. Why do I allow myself to become ensnared with stuff that does nothing for me? Why is Jesus not the treasure trove I desire? Lord, transform my trivial thoughts to true treasure. 

Without warning, memories crop up and I’m
reminded of a reliable inheritance. Wonderful memories of attending Sunday school and church with my family. Listening to my dad read daily devotions with prayer at the table. Hearing my mom read Bible stories at bedtime. Not only did my parents endow us with material belongings, they left a legacy of faith in God Almighty. My sisters and I were taught about a God who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world to save us from sin. We learned about Jesus and He is the greatest treasure of all.

Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He came to earth to represent the Heavenly Father. He preached words of eternal life (John 6:68-69). He was, is, and will be the Holy One of God. The apostle John tells us He is the Word of God that existed with God from the very beginning. John even explains who Jesus is in detail. 

Before anything else existed, there was Christ, with God. He has always been alive and is himself God. He created everything there is—nothing exists that he didn’t make. Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.  John 1:1-5 (TLB)

These words describe true treasure, God through Jesus Christ. He is a firm foundation, ageless advice, trustworthy truth. He is the Light of the world sent into the world to save the world. 

We may possess many worldly goods and personal effects to pass on to our children, but it’s all superfluous. What we consider treasure in this world could get taken from us. It won’t last. It’s replaceable. It’s just stuff.

God has given us Himself through Jesus Christ. He has entrusted us with His truth. We must hold this truth tightly in our hearts and yet share abundantly with others. 

Make Jesus and His truth the treasure you cherish. Make sure He’s the legacy you leave.


Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.  Hebrews 13:7-9 (NIV)



Michael W. Smith - Ancient words......

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Clouds of Glory


Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  Exodus 40:34-35 (NASB)

It happened that when the priests came from the holy place, the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.  1 Kings 8:10-11 (NASB)


He is God and we are not. We are minuscule in the grand scheme of things. Consider the vastness of the heavens, the universe. Earth is a small part of the cosmos. Each one of us is a tiny part of earth. Still we belong to a Creator who knows our very hearts. He even desires a relationship with us. 

Moses had the benefit of an intimate relationship with Almighty God while also being a conduit for some of the Lord’s most celebrated miracles. In today’s world he would have made the headlines, gaining instant popularity. Yet Moses wasn’t anymore special than you or me. He simply chose to follow God and obey His direction for the deliverance of the Israelites. 

Consider the many miraculous events Moses experienced. One such encounter involved the Lord’s glory filling up the tabernacle. When Moses had finished erecting a place for God to dwell, His presence in a cloud settled over the tent of meeting and filled the tabernacle to capacity. It was so awesome Moses was unable to enter the tent. Try to envision God’s presence in an enveloping cloud. Imagine the grandeur of God Almighty holding you back from getting close. How did Moses react? What would you have done? 

It’s hard for human beings to grasp the expanse of a mighty God. Still this powerful God reigned in a cloud by day and fire by night leading the Israelites through the wilderness. He never left them. He doesn’t leave us either. 

Many years later God’s splendor resided in the temple Solomon built. The cloud filled the house of the Lord preventing the priests from performing their duties. God’s magnificence overpowered them. Solomon confirmed he had built a lofty house for God while remembering the Lord had said He would dwell in the thick cloud. Imagine the majesty of the Temple built by human hands. Now consider the resplendence of a God-filled cloud occupying the very foundation of human construction. 

Solomon and the assembly of Israel offered up their praises, dedicating the Temple to the Lord. The king lifted his hands toward heaven saying, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or earth below.”

King Solomon understood the greatness of God. He continued, “Will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” The king felt humility before an awesome God while also understanding that his Heavenly Father heard his prayer (1 King 8:23-29). He hears our prayers too.

While in Ireland this summer, my family and I felt God’s awesome presence in a cloud. We stood on a sun-draped hill above the ocean, gazing at a distant cloud cover over the horizon. Standing still we noticed it advancing toward us. From end to end this billowing cloud steadily moved over the earth until it enveloped us. Eventually it proceeded over and behind us. Speechless and transfixed we admired God’s glory. We were awed by His presence, humbled by His greatness. When we were able to move again, we simply uttered, “Only God.”

Moses and Solomon understood God’s greatness. They witnessed evidence of His power. I stood within a mighty cloud and felt His presence. Maybe you’ve encountered His magnificence. When we humans are truly aware of God’s majesty, we realize our insignificance. But when we understand how much this supreme God loves and cares for us, we are overwhelmed with humble gratitude. 

God IS great and God IS good. He is a powerful Being who cares for each one of us. He hears our cries and listens to our prayers. Trust and obey Him. Have faith in His ability to take care of your loved ones. He is God and we are not. HE IS ABLE.


Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!  Psalm 8 (NIV)



Worship God with Steven Curtis Chapman singing "God is God".......