Seeking the Lost Sheep

I have some very good news to share with you…

The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10

Seeking the Lost Sheep

This is another encouraging reblog, to read the rest go here.

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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

The Prayers and Tears of St. Augustine’s Mother

One of my daughters was reading Confessions by St. Augustine about the time I was grieving in tears every day for my prodigal son. I found this story about his mother very consoling because St. Augustine was a prodigal himself who came to be a saint. I’m just going to quote some helpful passages out of the book:

“But you ‘sent down your help from above’ Psalms 144:7, and rescued my soul from the depths of this darkness because my mother, your faithful servant, wept to you for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son. For in her faith and in the spirit which she had from you she looked on me as dead. You heard her and did not despise the tears which streamed down and watered the earth in every place where she bowed her head in prayer.” (Page 68)

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Continue reading this reblogged post here.

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.

Good News About Prodigals by Tom Bisset

Someone shared with me this  excerpt from  Good News about Prodigals by Tom Bisset. It is so encouraging that I thought it would be well worth passing on  to those of you  who haven’t heard of it.

   “In this book, I have outlined five basic reasons that prodigals return to the faith. A pattern exists; we know why people drop out and we know why they return. Without exception, you will find one or several of these reasons in the stories of all prodigal’s journey home.

   First, they return because of the influence of another person – a spouse, family member, friend, or spiritual leader. This factor is one constant in all returning stories; someone else is always involved, usually significantly, in the prodigal’s journey home.

   Second, they come back because they have a personal or family problem that they cannot solve. Leaving the faith seemed to be the answer to their problems. But in fact, it wasn’t all that easy. Life brought serious problems and doubts of its own. Typically, trouble takes time – anywhere from several years to several decades. But in the end, problems bring prodigals home.

   Third, they return because they are experiencing an emotional and spiritual void in their lives. When life loses its meaning and all seems lost, empty hearts and tormented minds turn toward the God who is there. The good news is that God promises to be found by all who seek Him.

   Fourth, they come back because they are concerned about their children’s moral and spiritual futures. Love for children is a universal emotion from which no parent can escape. Often, God uses this mother and father love to track down adult prodigals with children and create renewed interest in Himself.

   Fifth, they come home because of unexpected, life-changing spiritual experience. Simply put, God breaks into prodigal lives, sometimes radically and calls prodigals to Himself. It’s as if at a certain point along the way God says, “Enough’s enough. Time’s up. Come home now.” And the prodigal returns, or at least begins the journey home.

   This last reason is the easiest to overlook. No doubt this is because we tend to think about a prodigal son or daughter in practical, everyday terms. We grieve over the mess they have made of their lives. We feel a range of emotions, from anguish and anger to guilt and hopelessness. It’s all very real, very now.

   What is more, we want to do something – talk, plead, take action. We sense that we can help. And in fact, we can (it’s why I wrote this book). We can be an active participant in helping our kids understand the difference between error and truth, between life and death. This is what we have done with our children since they were little. Why stop now? Furthermore, to not take action is tantamount to giving up, something no parent of any prodigal will ever do.

   But doing something is not necessarily the answer. Sometimes, we need to do nothing and let God take care of things. In the midst of our trying and crying on behalf of our prodigal children, the hardest thing of all is to remember two simple words: But God.

…I almost forgot that God can sovereignly take charge of people’s lives at the time and place of His choosing. He doesn’t need you or me to do this. He decides to act, and that’s that.”  ~ Tom Bisset


You can order this book at amazon.

Featured Blog ~ Oil of His Grace

Really good advice from a dear sister who is dealing with a prodigal herself…The link to her complete article and a video that will bless and encourage you is at the bottom of the page. 


Encouragement for Struggling Believers


Your situation, whatever it is, is in God’s hands! I have a feeling someone reading this needs encouragement today so let me share two things: 


1.) Don’t isolate yourself. If you’re facing a battle in your life you need AN ARMY! You need sisters and brothers who will fight with you and storm the gates of hell in prayer. Don’t allow the enemy to convince you that you should face it alone. Forget the lie that says you would be a bother to others. My dear friend – that’s what the body of Christ is for. To bear one another’s burdens! 

Look with me at what the Apostle Paul admonished believers: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Did you notice the last part of that verse? “Thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” This means that when you ask another Christian to pray for you, you are actually helping them! How am I doing that? you might ask. You are helping them to mature and grow in Christ-likeness! You are helping that person to “fulfill the law of Christ.” Have you ever thought of it that way? If not then I ask you to “chew” on that a bit. What a wonderful truth it is! Praying for one another is an absolute privilege. Right now I am praying for a dear reader and I count it a joy! So, please, if you’re going through something, don’t isolate. Instead seek prayer and counsel from other believers.

2.) Trust God yet ask Him for the grace to see a “glimpse” of what He’s doing through your situation. What I mean is this: We can only see the past and the present (and even then we don’t always see clearly). We certainly cannot see what’s around the corner. In fact, you might compare our present reality to paddling a boat down a river. We can take in all the scenery as we pass by, but we are never able to see around the next bend. 

Furthermore, on some days we paddle in calm waters, and on others we go through nothing but rapids. And yet, in calm waters or rapids, in neither can we see what’s just ahead. But I wonder: Why is it we tend to only fret about what lies ahead when we’re in the midst of rapids? When things are going our way – when the water is placid, the scenery beautiful – all is good and we have a sense of peace. Hey – we’re trusting God! 

But the minute the waters begin to churn….? Oftentimes when that happens we turn to self-comfort and our own (limited) understanding of things.

Friend, let me suggest another perspective for you. Consider this: While you and I are paddling downriver, only seeing what is around us, God is above – like an eagle. He has excellent eyesight to see the whole picture! Rather than merely having our “linear” perspective, He sees around the next bend in the river. But, even better than the eagle, God’s “eyesight” is so keen that He’s also able to see the end of all things
 
It’s easy to forget this when you’re hurting and you want easy answers. But His promise to you is to not only “work all things together for good” (Romans 8:28), but to also work all things after the counsel of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11) This means that not only is our God all-knowing, but that He in His wisdom actually allows the trials we face to come into our lives. They are trials “with a purpose.” His purpose. Dear sister, trust that not only is the Lord sovereign, but that He is also loving. Remember, the Word tells us that He actually IS love. He would never do or allow anything to destroy you. That is what the enemy wants to do. (John 10:10) God will only prune you (John 15:2) – which may hurt – but He intends it for your growth and fruit-bearing. You can trust your heavenly Father’s heart.
 
To read the whole post please visit Oil of His Grace
 
 

31 Days ~ How Long?

Day 31 ~ How Long? 
This  is the last day of the 31 Days of blogging with all the incredible bloggers out there. I’m going to leave you readers some links to older posts that have been really helpful to me and hopefully will encourage you. A special thanks to James Banks who wrote the wonderful book of prayers, “Prayers for Prodigals” that I have been reading through day by day, and that has inspired so much of this writing…
How long, O Lord, how long?” Psalms 6:3Some of you are just starting out on this journey. I think that is the hardest of all. When it all comes crashing down on you and the pain is excruciating and the nightmare you never dreamed would happen to you is now your life…It’s as if someone has died and you will experience the same stages of grief. I found this very helpful during that time…
As time goes by in our loneliness we hear of others who have perhaps suffered a greater loss than our own and we realize that in order to heal we need to reach out and help others…
After a while we think, “I don’t want this to last for years and years…how can I bear this…how long, Father, how long?”We may even be tempted to take the battle into our own hands…The Temptation to Take the Battle into Our Own Hands

How long, O Lord, how long? Is a phrase we will utter many times no matter how long it takes, but in the meantime God is not only working in our prodigal but also in us…

“Only God knows the end of the story for our prodigal. Every once in awhile we get a glimmer of hope that our son will fully return to God. Many times I’ve wished I could just read the final chapter; then perhaps I’d sleep better at night. But we are learning to walk by faith, one day at a time. God is sovereign, and we have learned much about His grace, His patience, and His love that we probably would not have learned otherwise.”

Praying today that we might comfort one another no matter where we are in this journey. We as parents are learning to TRUST and have FAITH in a way that transcends human understanding. Reach out and encourage someone today with the comfort you have received from the Lord. It is His way of bringing us closer to Him and giving us healing and peace.
Praying for our prodigals that no matter where they are in their journey that they will see Jesus. Father, take the blinders off their eyes that they might see You today. And we thank you and praise you for the work You alone can do in their lives.

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

31 Days ~ Wanting What God Wants

Day 9 ~ Wanting What God Wants

“Some of my son’s choices have affected his future, Father.

The missed opportunities, denied admissions, and closed doors would not have been so if he had applied the gifts that you’ve given him.

But that doesn’t mean he’s missed the greatest opportunity of his life.

You are that opportunity, Lord! And You can make new opportunities for Him.

More than wanting him to seek Your hand and what You can do for him, I want him to seek Your heart.”

Ask most parents what they want for their child and you’ll find they want good things, a successful career, a happy home, good health, a life with fewer challenges than they had.

But what does God want?

… Our prayer needs to be, “Father, help me to want what you want for my child. Help him to love you most of all!”

When that prayer is answered then your son or daughter will be truly happy and have all that he or she needs. Not just for a few years on this earth but for every day to come, stretching on beyond forever, because “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9

~ James Banks Prayers for Prodigals

I did a review of a book by a fellow traveler Dan Mayhew called The Butterfly and the Stone… Dan’s son is addicted to alcohol…he was in the military and has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…

Here is a quote from his book…

“I see less of the man I dreamed he would become and more of the one he seems determined to be. He seems to have set out with deliberateness to be everything I have always hated about disfigured manhood.

Drinking. Smoking. Partying. Gambling. Foul-mouthed. Unkind. Selfish. Abusive. Mocking. Smelling of smoke and alcohol. At home in rancid taverns and among reprobates and miscreants.

I detest it. All of it. That I should be the father of such a one is hardly bearable. I wish I could forget him. Reclaim my life and put this interminable season of reckless debauchery behind me. To forget the lies; the times when my affection only made me feel foolish when it was repaid only with more of the same; to sleep through the night without fear and dread; to turn away on last time and be free of love.

When the Creator of this world looks upon it sinking into depravity – when He sees the hatred and the filth; malice and the cruelty; the selfishness and the violence, when He sees all that He hates, will He turn away?

No. Because the love of the Father in heaven exceeds my feeble love. He has already turned His face away from all that, when He turned away from Christ on the cross. It had to be the cross. Anything less brutal could never stand amidst the refuse of human depravity and declare forgiven. Atonement for the sins of the world – all that the Creator detests in His children – had to be the cross.

And that is what makes Him Father. Grace beyond limits. Forgiveness without end. Hope beyond endurance. Life to overcome death. This is grace. It is the love that never fails and will prevail in spite of all that is detestable among His children.”

Dan began a community of home-based churches called The Summit Fellowships where he serves as a church planter, teacher and encourager.

Please add Dan and his son to your prayer list. His book is really incredible…to see the review go here

31 Days of Prayers for Prodigals ~ For Chains to Fall

I have been praying through James Banks book Prayers for Prodigals and decided to discipline myself to pray for prodigals and their families for 90 days…Yes!…That’s how many prayers are in this wonderful book. So my daughter suggested that I go ahead and do the 31 Days ~ a challenge to post all through the month of October with the rest of the incredible, encouraging delightful bloggers out there, and share what I have been given to share. So here goes…

Day 1 ~ For Chains to Fall

One of our very good friends and a brother in Christ is a returned prodigal… His story is a little different than ours, as he ran from God when both his parents died in a car wreck when he was 18. For 12 years he ran from the pain…ran from God…

Today he is a man of God. He has a wife and 3 beautiful children. Circumstances have been very rough lately. When he returned he did not have parents to return to…he had to face an immense loneliness that very few of us have had to face…

He is a horse-shoer and he writes a blog…this is what he shared today after writing about all that he had to do to replace the handle of a very important tool…his hammer.

“Today I have a hammer handle that feels amazing, does it’s job very well, is easy on my hand as I drive nails. Yet it holds the scars of being driven in a spot not large enough for it, burnt by fire, infused with green poison, all to make it into the exact utensil desired.

That’s kinda how Yahweh does with us sometimes. We see constant failure in life…He sees perseverance in the making. We see loneliness…He sees someone being groomed to stand alone in the gap. We see hurt and heartbreak…He sees someone being given a huge, unique, dose of compassion. We see persecution and shame…He sees someone being refined by fire. Little bits of our old self being stripped away and cast aside in a pile of ash; spent and beaten we emerge a vessel worthy to be called a fellow heir to the Throne. Always will we bear the scars of the fire, the hammer of the Master as He buffets our soul. Refining us with every blow. Until we are made to fit His hand perfectly, to be wielded by the Master for His perfect purpose.” ~ A Journey to True Freedom

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear your prodigal utter words like this? It takes deep refining that only God can do in our prodigal’s lives and in our own lives as well.

……………………………………………………………………….

“He brought them our of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.” Psalms 107:14

“My son has his chains too, Lord.They’re not made of iron. They’re made from the sins he forged of his own free will, thinking they would bring him more freedom.

They’ve done anything but that. They’ve only kept him from coming closer to you.

You promised that “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)

Your word says, “The Lord sets prisoners free” (Psalms 146:7)

Set him free, Lord! He needs You to break his chains.I ask to hear the sound of chains falling with a dull thud, never to be put on again.

I long to hear my son say, “The Lord has done great things” for me and I am “filled with joy” (Psalms 126:3)

~Prayer by James Banks