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.

waterfalljer

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

31 Days ~ Called Out of Darkness

Day 23 ~ Called Out of Darkness

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:” 1 Peter 2:9

Called out of darkness…how many of you were called out of darkness?

From the concordance darkness means: of night darkness; of darkened eyesight or blindness; of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell; persons in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway.

I once was lost…and now I’m found…

I once was blind, but now I see…

He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” Psalms 40:2

If I had Christian parents they would have been devastated, but they also would have rejoiced at what Jesus has done in my life. I don’t know that a single prayer was uttered for me during this time of darkness, but Jesus called me out of it.

Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD Almighty.” Malachi 3:7

Father, you are very aware of what our prodigals are doing right now. For from the beginning of time men turn away from you and follow darkness. Father, right now, our children are living in darkness, making horrendously horrible choices that will effect their lives forever. We cry out to you, Father, for we of ourselves can do nothing. Please bring them out of the miry pit, the ungodliness, the immorality, this horrible wretched darkness that holds sway over them and causes such blindness. Father, we cry out to you today, please call them out of darkness into your marvelous light.

Quoting James Banks
“I ask for your light to fall on this path and lead him home.

Let him see your light from the distance and be drawn to you.

Even though now he sits in darkness, I ask that you will be his light.(Micah 7:8)

I praise you that there is no darkness so black that you can not show him the way out of it.

Bring him to the place where he can say, “You are my lamp, O Lord the LORD turns my darkness to light” (2 Samuel 22:29)” ~ James Banks

And Father…I pray for none of this middle of the road stuff. I pray when our prodigals come to their senses and see your Light…when they truly give their hearts and lives to Jesus, that there will be no turning back. That they will put the past behind them and walk forward…the past immorality, drugs, rock music…make it absolutely abhorrent to them.

Thank you, Jesus, for what you have done in my life, I know without a doubt that you can do it in any life. And I especially ask today, that you would visit the suffering parents. Please take them in your arms. Fill them with your peace, hold them tight so that they know you are with them in their grief. Give them a knowing that you are at work in the hearts of those they love and hold most dear, right now as we are praying.

Forgive us all, Father, for we are so prone to wander, so prone to be unbelieving and faithless.

We are called to show forth your praises, even the sacrifice of praise…

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

31 Days ~ Another Chance

Day 7 ~ Another Chance

What prodigals do not only hurts the parents, but the siblings as well. One of my daughters wrote a song about her brother called Another Chance

It was early in the morning when I walked into the vineyard,
The sun was just coming over the hill.
Tears filled my eyes as I took in the sight of the drooping vines
They wouldn’t respond to my gentle hands and care.

No fruit again…No reason to keep this branch.
No fruit again…I’ve worked so hard, but it just won’t begin…to grow.

I pulled out my shears and picked the branch up from the ground
When I felt someone standing by my side
He took the vine in his nail scarred hands and held it up
With tears he quietly looked into my eyes.

Just one more chance… Please don’t give up so soon
Just one last chance… I want this vine to give me precious fruit… again.

Several years later after many a pruning and cutting
That branch flourished again in the sun
It was covered with fruit of the sweetest sort and stood so strong
A sign of submission in the Master’s hands.

Here’s fruit for you…Only by your grace and mercy
Take all I have… What you have given me, I give back… to you

There’s fruit again… Reason to keep this branch
There’s fruit again…I’ve worked so hard and it just began…to grow.

 
“I love what you did for Peter, Lord.

After he had denied you three times (Matthew 26: 34), you still forgave him and gave him another chance.

Thank you for your mercy, Lord!

Not only did you give Peter another chance, but you also gave one to me.

And you continue to give me chances. You forgive me again and again…

I pray for a second chance for our sons and daughters, just like you gave Peter.

I ask You, “Lord of the harvest” to send workers into the “harvest field” (Matthew 9:38) that is our prodigal’s lives.

Let our sons and daughters encounter your people wherever they go and let your people share Your love with them in ways they cannot miss.

Let their hearts be “burning within“(Luke 24:32) “~ James Banks

“God sees not only our pain but He sees his plan and when He sees his plan He knows that His plan includes your pain that will bring you to your purpose…”

It Is Well With My Soul

Listen, please listen, to the glorious words of this song…

Now here is the story behind this beautiful hymn…
This hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford. You might think to write a worship song titled, ‘It is well with my soul’, you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer. But the words, “When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well with my soul”, were not written during the happiest period of Spafford’s life. On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy.
Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because of Horatio’s legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of D.L. Moody, the famous preacher. In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords’ only son was killed by scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, it was fire rather than fever that struck. Horatio had invested heavily in real estate on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1871, every one of these holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.
Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest — DL Moody needed the help. He was traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns. Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer ‘Ville de Havre’ across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay. Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed East to Europe while Spafford returned West to Chicago. Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read: “Saved alone.”
On November 2nd 1873, the ‘Ville de Havre’ had collided with ‘The Lochearn’, an English vessel. It sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters. Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford’s first reaction was one of complete despair. Then she heard a voice speak to her, “You were spared for a purpose.” And she immediately recalled the words of a friend, “It’s easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God.”
Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife. Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father’s voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. “A careful reckoning has been made”, he said, “and I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.” Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.
The words which Spafford wrote that day come from 2 Kings 4:26. They echo the response of the Shunammite woman to the sudden death of her only child. Though we are told “her soul is vexed within her”, she still maintains that ‘It is well.” And Spafford’s song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering as hers was.
It would be very difficult for any of us to predict how we would react under circumstances similar to those experienced by the Spaffords. But we do know that the God who sustained them would also be with us.
No matter what circumstances overtake us may we be able to say with Horatio Spafford…
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul!
It is well … with my soul!
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Praying that this story and hymn will minister to you today.
Story from A Hymn and It’s History
It Is Well With My Soul sung by Chris Rice

Deep Communion with the Almighty

I have found myself weeping for the iniquity of the world, and the iniquity of my prodigal son…

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” James 4:9

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem by Greg Olson (Matthew 23:37)

Our heavenly Father describes the same experience that a lot of us relate with on a smaller scale in our own families…

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.” Isaiah 1:2-7

We have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against us. God is confronted with this every day. Are we not communing with Him in grieving for the rebellious? Is this not a deep communion and heart cry and intercession with the God of all Creation? Can we as His children be exempt from what He is feeling in His heart?

Romans 1: 18- 32 further echos the heart cry of our Father professed in Isaiah… ”When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations , and their foolish heart was darkened…Professing themselves wise, they became fools…”

Watching as prodigal children turn in rebellion from God and their parents… and on a larger scale…seeing the acceptance of fornication and homosexuality in our society and what is worse in our churches …

“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” Ezekiel 9:4

This lead me to a very interesting study on the word mark or Tav in Hebrew…

The word mark here in Scripture is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet Tav…(tawv); from OT:8427; a mark; by implication, a signature: KJV – desire, mark.

This mark (T) set on the foreheads of those righteous men saved them from the wrath of Yahweh. Where else do we see this same shape saving the righteous, but in Egypt where the men were to take the hyssop, dipped in the blood of the Passover lamb, and place it on the lintel and doorposts…

This quote I found very interesting ~ a comment on the letter Tau by James Read:

“The earliest explicit mention of anything which describes the shape of the instrument of Roman execution is Barnabas’ epistle where he likens it the Greek letter Tau which is very much T shaped. Also, some other early Christian reference to how Moses was foreshadowing a T shape when he kept his arms raised to his sides while Israel was doing battle with Joshua (Yehoshua, Yoshua, Isus) doing battle.
Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the Tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt. In Ezekiel’s Old Testament vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a Tav, upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. In Ezekiel’s vision, then, the Lord is counting Tav Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the Tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.”

In the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet Chart Tav means crossed sticks and is represented by an x or T shape.

Further in Ezekiel we see a reference to two sticks one representing Judah (the Southern tribe) and another for Joseph (Ephraim) and the children of Israel(the Northern Tribes) and the prophecy that these two sticks shall become one.

Jesus was the Repairer of the breech as he hung on the cross, the two sticks becoming one… Ezekiel 37:15-19

“The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.”

From the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi:

“We know from ancient texts that Roman crosses consisted of two pieces. The stipes was the upright piece, fixed in the ground, often permanently. In restless areas and times with constant executions there could have been whole groves of them. The horizontal piece was called the patibulum; it weighed about a hundred pounds or so, and the condemned person was usually forced to carry it to the place of execution. Hence his name, the patibulatus.

After the patibulatus carried the crosspiece of his cross out to the field of execution, he’d be attached to it with ropes or with nails—hence the term crucifixio, from crux, cross, and figo, to affix. Then he’d be hauled up so that the patibulum could be fastened to the stipes. We tend to think of the two pieces being mortised into each other to form the familiar Latin-cross shape ( † ). More probably the Roman army carpenters, with hundreds and thousands of crosses to make, didn’t bother with that kind of fancy joinery. They probably just fixed a peg in the top of the stipes and bored a hole in the patibulum; that would make it easier to assemble the cross in a single motion, and it would make the weight of the crossbeam and the crucified man hold the cross together; it would result in a shape like the Greek letter tau …T”

So the mark set upon those who were mourning and weeping over the abomination of the land was also the cross that we take up and was the instrument used for the cruxfiction of Christ our salvation. Do you realize that Jesus told the people to take up the cross before He was crucified?

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them,Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34

The Hebrew letter Tav (T) is the last letter in the Hebrew language…it finishes the Hebrew alphabet and Yahshua said as he died on the cross (T), “It is finished.”

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” John 19:30

The Crucifixion by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696 – 1770)

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

So you see that we have a deep communion with our Father and Savior in intercession and weeping and mourning for the lost…Are we Tav Christians? Are we bearing our crosses? Are we in deep communion with the heart of the Almighty?

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

The signs of the times ~ 2 Timothy 3:1 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”

Our hope is in Christ who finished the work on the cross…He is the resurrected King, the Savior of the whole world for He has overcome it, the Alpha and Omega or in Hebrew the Aleph and Tav ~ the Beginning and the End ~ the Author and the Finisher… Hallelulyah!

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Heb 12:2

Cristo_crucificado

Diego Velázquez: Crucifixion of Christ, 1632.

Catacombs and Caves

Imagine how early Christians hid in the catacombs underneath the streets of Rome during times of heavy persecution.

We have catacomb times in our lives. Times of sorrow and suffering…times of retreat when our only strength and hope is in the Word of God…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-5

Catacombs and caves…

What do they represent in the lives of Christians? What do they mean to us today?

From a visitor of the catacombs…”These are the Catacombs of Callisto. Being inside and going down the dark damp corridor made us feel like we were in an Indiana Jones movie. This was where the early Christians were buried (similar to Jesus). This dates back very close to the time of Christ. This catacomb is one out of 60 around Rome. There are 4-5 levels, but only one was open. It was a total labyrinth.”

This describes just one of many catacombs that were burial places of Rome, but at one time they were also a refuge place for the persecuted Christians of the early church. Painted on the walls of the catacombs are depictions of Christ and the apostles and symbols of the Christian faith…


The martyrs were also lovingly buried in these catacombs.

I found it interesting that the cross was not used in the beginning by early Christians, but the Greek letters chi ro and fishes and doves etc.

For an interesting study on these symbols click on this link




Now to the caves…Scripture tells us that men who were in distress, in debt, and discontented gathered together with David in a cave…

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” 1 Samuel 22:1-2

Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam by Claude, 1658

The name Adullam means refuge…

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam.” 1 Samuel 22:1

A quote from an unknown author…”Still a fugitive, David left the land of the Philistines, and now took refuge in a large underground cavern, situated, most probably, not far from Bethlehem. To conceal himself from Saul and his blood-thirsty underlings, our hero betook himself to a cave—it is probable that the Holy Spirit made reference to this in Hebrews 11:38. The high favorites of Heaven are sometimes to be located in queer and unexpected places. Joseph in prison, the descendants of Abraham laboring in the brick-kilns of Egypt, Daniel in the lions’ den, Jonah in the great fish’s belly, Paul clinging to a spar in the sea, forcibly illustrate this principle. Then let us not murmur because we do not now live in as fine a house as do some of the ungodly; our “mansions” are in Heaven!”

Sorrow and suffering has a way of representing catacombs and caves in our lives. But as in the old days they were refuge places, so today these sorrows cause us to seek refuge with our Savior. As in this poem written by a young man, a dear friend, whose father recently died of cancer…

The tribulations and weights of life are more than enough
With the immortality awaiting above
Temporary prison of dust below
May we brave life’s storm
And survive the turmoil which descends like winter’s snow
We climb the mountain despite the incline
Stumble and fall
Get up and start again
It can be like walking barefoot through broken glass
The loss of loved ones, their memories are blessed
Because nothing in life is without pain
God gives, takes away
Ultimately, Pain brings growth
Blood in our footsteps
~Joe Wolking

Joe has walked in the steps of sorrow and suffering and has experienced the growth spiritually that comes with pain…

“The underground asylum of David made an admirable closet for prayer, its very solitude being helpful for the exercise of devotion. Well did C. H. Spurgeon say, “Had David prayed as much in his palace as he did in his cave, he might never have fallen into the act which brought such misery upon his latter days.” We trust the spiritual reader will, at this point, turn to and ponder Psalms 57 and 142. In them he will perceive something of the exercises of David’s heart. From them he may derive valuable instruction as to how to pray acceptably unto God in seasons of peculiar trial. A careful reading of the fifty-seventh Psalm will enable us to follow one who began it amid the gloomy shadows of the cavern, but from which he gradually emerged into the open daylight. So it often is in the experiences of the believer’s soul.”

Let us use the catacombs and caves of life to bring us to a closer walk with the Almighty. To draw closer yet to Him who is our refuge our fortress and to boldly say that He strengthened our weak knees .

One step at a time we will walk up the stairs ascending out of the agonies of our souls and once again to see light and joy and peace, but in a different way. Not that of the world, but of He who has overcome the world.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39