Encouragement Through Suffering

There was an accident two years ago on Highway 66. Two young women hit by a truck swerving into their lane. The two died instantly, the truck driver lived, but has never apologized to the grieving families. I pray for him that God would give him grace, and touch his heart that he would come to know Jesus and find peace.

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I met the mother of one of these young women just the other day. She is a vibrant Christian. Her daughter was her only child…

With tears in her eyes she told me her story, and she told me of Christ’s Victory and even through her grief, she accepts what happened. She knows that for whatever reason it was God’s perfect timing in taking her daughter home. Her daughter had an intimate relationship with Jesus.

To read the rest of this post click  HERE

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The Temptation to Take the Battle in Our Own Hands

Are you struggling with the temptation to make things right? To take things into your own hands because the Lord in your mind isn’t working fast enough?

I read this morning in “Streams in the Desert”….

“I once thought that after I prayed
that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer
to pass. He taught me a better way, and showed that my self-effort
always hindered His working, and that when I prayed and definitely
believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise,
and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still, and
do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle
into our own hands is often tremendous. We all know how impossible it is
to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is
equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we
insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not,
but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working.” C.H.P.

This is another reblog… read the rest  here

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How God Persues Prodigals ~ Ray Pritchard

This is a very interesting take on the prodigal…Can we help our prodigals too soon?

Ray Pritchard writes, “Sometimes in our attempt to reach out to the prodigals we know, we can intervene too soon. Do you remember what happened to the prodigal son in Luke 15? After he had wasted all his inheritance in wild living, he ended up feeding the pigs (Luke 15:15-16). As Eugene Peterson puts it, “He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.” If you saw that, you might think, “That young man is ready for a new life.” Maybe so, maybe not.
Sometimes in our attempt to reach out to the prodigals we know, we can intervene too soon.

In the story Jesus told, the father waited for his son to return and then ran to meet him when he was still far from home. What if the father in the story had gone after his son and tried to bring him back even one day early? The son would have said, “If only you had left me alone for one more day, I would have made all my money back because I was investing in pork bellies.”

So it goes. We may think that someone has hit rock bottom when they are still scheming a way out of their problems. It was not until the son “came to his senses” that he decided to return home. That has to happen to every prodigal son and daughter, and it cannot be predicted or forced.

Repentance is first of all a work of God in the human heart. If you come a day too soon, the prodigal will always think, “With one more day, I would have figured out a way to solve my own problems.” As long as the scheming and lying and deceiving continues, the best thing we can do is to pray for God’s Spirit to bring them to their senses and to wait patiently until that day comes.”

I know you will be greatly encouraged reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this sermon by Ray Pritchard on his website  Keep Believing. 

Toward the end of  his sermon Ray gives these  comforting words…

God knows where they are.
God knows what they are doing.
God knows how to reach them.
God knows how to bring them back.

Between now and then, never give up.

Never give up.
Keep believing.
Keep on praying.

A Praying Momma ~ T. Suzanne Eller

This is a wonderfully encouraging article for parents of prodigals…keep on praying!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

When he first started drinking, she and her husband weren’t sure what to do. Then he was arrested. Soon after they discovered he was using drugs. For the first time in her life, Mickey felt helpless as a mom.

Mickey’s son was raised in church and he once served as a leader in his youth group. Their home was a safe place where faith was lived out. And yet her son continued to spiral downward, no matter what they did. The night he broke into their small business and emptied the cash register was the bleakest night of all.

Mickey looked around the church and realized there were other moms with similar struggles. She started a Prodigal Prayer Group that met on Tuesday nights. They prayed one year, two years and then three.

Mickey saw others’ children come back to their faith, but her prayers for her own son seemed to be going nowhere. Nonetheless, she continued to show up, joining in strength and support with other praying mommas.

I wish my sweet friend had a video camera recording her son through those dark days. I wish she could have seen Austin rediscover his faith, overcome his addictions, and see him grow into the godly man he is today.

But the reality is that Mickey didn’t have a video camera. All she had was her faith. Faith that was tested over and over.

She was aware of the realities of her son’s choices, but she continued to pray. She continued to believe. She had to make hard choices like setting boundaries. She had to listen to other moms whose children were not straying and who did not understand her struggle.

Mickey says that during that time she began to see Austin through the eyes of faith. She knew that it wasn’t in her power to change her son, but that God could be her source of strength as she stayed the course.

We often say we would do anything for our children. If someone had told Mickey that it would take years of praying and believing like she did without seeing any sign of change, I wondered would she still do it? Mickey says yes, she would.

Maybe you identify with my friend. You raised your son or daughter with love. You provided a safe place. You showed them Jesus, and yet somehow they lost their way. Today I want to encourage you. The Father loves you and your child. In Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32, NIV) we see a son who has hit rock bottom. He finally decides to go home and this is the reaction of his father:

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 

But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger, and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening in the pen. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” (verses 20-24)

Jesus told this story to illustrate the love of the Heavenly Father. The beauty of a praying momma is not lost in the chaos of your child’s choices. You are not alone as you pray, because He’s waiting, just as you are, to welcome your child in His embrace.

Dear Father, thank You that You love my child even more than I. I am not alone. You are with me. Walk with me today. Give me Your strength. Give me renewed hope and eyes of faith. In Jesus’ powerful, precious Name, Amen.

View this complete article at Proverbs 31 Ministries

31 Days ~ Despise Not These Little Ones

Day 27 ~ Despise Not These Little Ones

Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

 From Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks…
“Your word says that you send your angels to do your “bidding“, Father (Psalms 103:20).
Thank you for giving our children angels who “always behold” your face.
Thank you for all of the times you’ve looked after my child when I could not: the near misses,the fraction-of-a-second, happened-too-fast-for-me-to-react moments when your angel intervened.
My child needs the protection of your angels now, Lord.
You’ve said that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them (Psalms 34:7).
Because I “know what it is to fear” you (2 Corinthians 5:11) with reverence, awe, and love, I ask that you deliver my son.
Your word tells me about what you’ve done for those you call your own: “In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them” (Isaiah 63:9).
Redeem my son, Lord! Let him be a joy to you and to all of heaven, because “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).
I don’t know how you will do it, but I ask you to help his open his heart to you.” ~ James Banks
Father, I pray for each and every prodigal represented here today by Godly parents who fear you and ask that You would deliver these children from the enemy of their souls.
And we will watch and pray and wait, and say with the angels, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:11-12
The Guardian Angel  Pietro Da Cortona (Barrettini).

31 Days ~ Put on the Armor

Day 25 ~ Put on the Armor

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11
The armor talked about in Ephesians is something we should dress ourselves with every morning. Donning ourselves from head to toe with the protection our Father gives us will help us fight the battle that lies before us. It will also help our children. Perhaps this is an area of protection and defense from the enemy that we do not take seriously enough, especially in these perilous times we are living in.

Note in the scripture that the armor helps us to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Standing firm against lies and deception is so imperative. We are weakened by the attacks of the enemy whether it comes in the form of grief over our loved ones, or persecution from friends. Each blow that comes against us can either bring us to the ground in agony, or we can stand firm with the armor: the helmet of salvation, the breast-plate of righteousness, the sword of the spirit, the shield of faith, loins girt about with truth, and feet shod with the gospel of peace.

STAND FIRM 

Your standing for Christ will speak volumes to your prodigals. I know what it feels like to be so weakened that doubt seeps in… Some of you are fearing for your other children that they will follow their prodigal brother or sister. I did too. In fact as a defensive mechanism for myself I backed off from my other children for a time. But they didn’t stray, and we are not to fear. Jesus commands us not to fear, but to put the burden on Him and trust Him.

Why are we so prone to try to do things our own way? Even though we profess Christ, we do not walk in faith and trust as we should.

When my son was living in fornication, we told him we could have nothing to do with him, not even eat with him if he lived that way. (1 Corinthians 5:11)  He justified his behavior and no matter how I argued with him, he would not listen. The sad part is that other Christians had no problem with it, they encouraged it.

We are living in such a fallen world today. We are living in perilous times. 2 Timothy 3:1

I don’t know why some children do this…I always likened it to telling a child “No!” when they tried to touch a hot stove. Some listen and immediately pull their fingers away and never do it again. Some get burned and feel the pain and still do it again.

I pray for all of you parents today that you will take heed to the word and put on the armor and stand firm with your children. Jesus is the only way…His instruction is the best way…Teach your children as well , to put on the armor, and be an example of faith to them. Don’t be afraid to call sin, sin. Even if the whole world is against you. God is for you. Stand on His side. The battle is His and He will be victorious.

31 Days ~ About Shame

Day 24 ~ Shame Off Her
This is an interesting title for today. Being a little slow when it comes to understanding things, like jokes and puns, etc. I had to think twice (three times actually), before I realized that James was turning the term, “Shame on her”, around almost as a command to take the “Shame off her”.

Truthfully, I have never really prayed that before. I have prayed for a hedge of protection for our prodigals, that God would keep them from evil, etc., but today I will pray in a different way.

As the scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” Romans 10:11

Quoting James Banks

“I pray you will move soon in her life to turn her heart from the sin back to you.

Let her hear your Spirit speaking to her, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” (Isaiah 44:22)

Let the fog clear and a bright new morning break!

Even when we rebel against you, you long for us to give our hearts to you.

When we do, you take our sins completely away.

You clothe us with “garments of salvation” and “a robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10)

You present us holy in your sight, “without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).

You have said, “You will forget the shame of your youth” (Isaiah 54:4).

You tell us you will remember our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

Take the shame of my daughter, Lord Jesus! Just as you have for me.”

I know she has a choice to make and I pray she will make it soon and “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I pray she will choose you!” ~ James Banks

We as parents may also be feeling shame, but why then would the promise be that we would not be ashamed. I think we need to rethink this and realize that our children are God’s and we are given a time with them to nurture and bring them up, but then God has to deal with their hearts in His way. Anything that is not right in their hearts, He will make right in His time and in His way. That is why it is so important to “Let go and let God do the work”. We need to trust Him, and not be ashamed, but magnify the fact that we have a Great Shepherd who cares about each lost sheep and seeks to find them and bring them home. Praise Him for He is Mighty to save!

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

31 Days ~ Going the Extra Mile

 Day 20 ~ Going the Extra MileAnd whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:41It isn’t all a bed of roses when a prodigal returns.

In the parable the father is delighted and rejoicing, but the brother obviously has some problems with the attention that is bestowed on the wayward son.

There, of course, are many lessons in this parable for us to learn…

The prodigal, even though repentant, will bring back the consequences of his behavior.

The wasted years will show themselves evident in his life, as if he has to start again at square one. If he has a gift, it may be that gift was taken away from him and he has to settle with less.

He may bring back a wife who was with him in his rebellion and consequently does not have the same values as you.

Regardless what it is we are compelled to go the extra mile. We can open our arms with forgiveness and rejoice in the return, yet there will be rough spots in the road, and our love must be as Christ’s love for us…full of forgiveness and compassion.

All of it…this whole prodigal journey…is so like what our Father deals with in each one of us…what Jesus died for in each one of us.

Can we not go the extra mile, as He does with us?

James Banks ~ “This isn’t an easy road, but I accept it gratefully knowing that I’m following You.

I know by faith that this road comes out in a better place for him and for me if I keep my eyes on You.

I pray that I will continue in “faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel“. (Colossians 1:23)

Because love always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

You are not only watching You are with me.

When I “pass through the waters” of difficult days, You have promised, “I will be with you.”

When I pass “through the rivers” – those days when we’re in over our heads – you have said, “they will not sweep over” us.

Even when I “walk through the fire” of trial or temptation or anger, “I will not be burned if I stay close to You (Isaiah 43:2)”

Help us stay close to You, to keep our eyes on You, to be like You… to seek You early, to draw near to You, to acknowledge You in all our ways, so that our paths will be directed by You. Help us, Father, to go the extra mile, not just what is expected of us, but what may be out of our comfort zone.

Praying today that each one of You will know that you are not alone on this journey. This particular trial is set before you for a reason. It is the cup that the Father has given you to partake of, but Jesus will never leave you, or forsake you. Keep your eyes on Him and you will not sink no matter how violent the storm. He is with you forever and for always.

31 Days ~ New Mercy!

Day 19 ~ New Mercy!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23
“Something good is coming and I thank you for it, even though I don’t know what it is yet!
But I know You, and Your kindness is “new every morning“.
Whom have I in heaven but You?” Psalms 73:25
I will not give in to fear, and doubt and worry because You are with me.” Psalms 118:6
Because of your kindness I will renew my hope in You today.” ~ James Banks
Would you join me here today in praise to our Heavenly Father and thank Him for His mercies. I know that every day, even in the midst of our deepest trials, we can lift our hands in praise.
Praying that God will bless your day with a newness of hope and a refreshing of living waters to nourish and satisfy your every need.

31 Days ~ Take Heart

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I read these words several times this morning…Do we really believe this? These are words coming straight from our Savior’s mouth recorded by His beloved disciple John…

31 Days ~ Take Heart

These words are TRUTH. If He was to sit before you today and say to you…“In Me you shall have peace“. You might reply, but Lord, this is more pain than I can bear…

He would say, “Cast your burdens on Me, for I care for you. Be anxious for nothing.

In the world ye shall have tribulation“, Yes, Lord, this tribulation, this prodigal journey…it is so very painful…it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with…

Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world“.

Be of good cheer…or as James says, “Count it all joy…” James 1:2

This just seems impossible…but Take Heart, Be of good cheer…”nothing is impossible with God” Luke 1:37

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7-8

OK, everyone, get ready for a spiritual boot camp!

I started afresh just the other day committing myself to physical exercise after healing from a broken toe. Walk/run 1 1/2 mile morning and evening and alternating cardio and core workouts everyday!

Guess what? Today I am sore…but it is the good sore and I do have more energy and I feel better mentally and physically…But what does the Bible say…physical exercise profits little. But that’s not the point Paul was making. Exercise is good for you , but spiritual exercise is FANTASTIC for you.

Could it be that we need to exercise our faith, that this suffering can be overcome, if we focus entirely on Jesus? Why would He say, “Be of good cheer“?, if it were not possible? Can we believe Him for this? Can we exercise our belief?

James says, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” James 1:4

I’m suggesting here that we need to take this walk…this spiritual exercise…seriously. We need to take Jesus at His word, for it is TRUTH. We need to exercise focusing on Him every hour, every minute…if need be…

I believe Him and I know when I surrender, and truly TRUST Him with my life that He gives me peace like a river. Like rivers of living water that heal, that nourish, that wash the cares away…

Praying for you today…for a time of refreshing, a time of healing…a new determination to focus on Jesus…to let Him take care of a seemingly impossible situation…to trust Him totally.

Could it be that not only is He dealing with our prodigals hearts in bringing them to salvation, but He is also dealing with our hearts to bring us into His Peace and Rest?
Photos by Clear Angle