God Looks at the Heart

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“…People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”                 I Samuel 16:7b

Have you ever noticed how family and friends are the hardest to right a wrong with? No matter how many years it has been since you drove the car through Grandpa’s pumpkin patch, someone is going to bring it up at the next family gathering. And no matter that you now have a doctorate degree, someone is going to remember that you failed first grade. Am I the only one with family and friends like that? Oh, it doesn’t bother me, I know who I was and who I am now, and so does God.

My heart goes out to those who have made even bigger mistakes, though. The world gets us down and wants to keep us there. We are constantly reminded of who we once were and if we don’t let God change us, really change us, we can fall right back where we were. The world wants us to believe that there is no hope, and there IS no hope in the world. But God is bigger than the world, and He is the Hope.

God does His work invisibly. He can change the hardest heart. He can heal the deepest addict. And He will. But the change happens on the inside and when we look at the outside, we still see the same person. And we doubt. How can we know our loved one is changed? Is there something we look for? Yes, we look for Jesus in their lives.

We look for compassion and humility. We look for selflessness and true repentance. And we look at where their strength comes from. We look at the same things that God looks at.

When I picked the rose in the picture above, I felt like I had the perfect rose. Each petal was perfectly shaped, a slight, gentle curve where new growth was taking place. And I thought, only God could make something so beautiful. And that was when it came to me; God was in the rose. If I only looked at the outside, I would miss the true beauty. I don’t want to do that with my prodigal child.

No matter what the outside is saying or doing, I want to see the beauty inside. I want to see the true healing that only Jesus can bring. And I want to believe.

Look closely at your loved one; look closely at the rose.

 

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Running Away

“But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me…”                 

Hosea 11:2a

ImageI heard the voice before I saw what was happening. “James! Wait for Mommy!” I looked up and saw a small child running quickly toward the breaking waves with his Mommy in close pursuit. I tensed as I realized the danger of the situation and watched helplessly as the child neared the water’s edge. Just before his feet left the dry sand, he stopped, turned around, and smiled.

Wow! That was close. Obviously the child was drawn by the lapping waves, the sound of the water rushing to shore and the fascination of the unknown. What he didn’t know, was the danger. Mommy kept calling his name, but he kept right on running. I’ve done that. I’ve heard my Father calling to me only to pretend I didn’t know He was talking to me. And I kept running to the lure of the world.

Israel did that as we read in Hosea. “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols. I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care, that it was I who took care of him.”   Hosea 11:1-3 

 

God delivered Israel out of the hands of the Egyptians, supplied all their needs, provided safety and promised a better life. But the people kept turning back to their idols. America is doing that right now. God chose to offer His free salvation to us and many have accepted this freedom. We have left our bondage to “the Egyptians” and have received a promise of a better life. And even though we rest in our salvation, we keep turning back to the idols of this world. Instead of allowing God to provide for us, we work ourselves to death to earn a better living than Tom, Dick and Harry. We must wear the latest styles, spend hours on the most expensive cell phones and take bank-crushing vacations. God promised to supply all our needs? Why do we forsake Him when He calls us into the safety of His Arms?

I have known for a long time that if I walk close to God, He will give me the desires of my heart. And I trust in that promise. Why? Because if I am walking with God, I will know in my heart what He wants me to have and that will be my desire. Frustration sets in when I walk with God, but tune out His Voice in my spirit. Danger is in front of me when I run into the worldly lusts in front of me.

The child stopped just short of running into the water. Then, the Mommy picked him up and carried him just far enough in to let him feel the water playing with his toes; she let him bounce in her arms as the waves crashed around them. God wants us to have fun, but He wants to protect us from the dangers of the world. So…when He calls me, I want to listen.

 

Life is Meaningless

“I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless–like chasing the wind.”                          Ecclesiastes 1:12-14

And the words of Solomon are true. Everything in this life is meaningless. The job you have that you worked 16 hours a day to get is going to another who will work 18. The car you spent all your money on is going to need to be traded in for a new one. The house that is the envy of all your friends still needs repairs after a few years. And those friends you were trying so hard to impress? They will either leave you for someone with a bigger house or die. It’s all meaningless.

Even your family relationships. The Mother that you spend your life trying to please; the father who beat you into submission. Your spouse who works too hard to get the car and house we mentioned above. All meaningless. The child that breaks your heart. The drugs you take to manage your broken heart. Meaningless.

Life on earth is meaningless.

God knows of the weaknesses that we have while living here on earth; and that is why it is meaningless. He has given us the opportunity to live in a much better world after we leave this meaningless life.

“For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.”   Psalm 103:11

God loves us unconditionally, all we have to do is to accept what He has given us. Yes, life on earth is meaningless, so we can’t spend it on gathering things, worrying about what is happening or not happening in our lives, and whether or not we are happy. True joy comes from having a knowledge that we have accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”           Psalm 103:12

If we confess our sins, all of them, known and unknown, His is faithful to forgive us. And He will forget. And He will make our lives meaningful, because our needs are not situated in this world, they are reaching to the heavens. We are not trying to please those around us, we are striving to be more like Jesus Christ to please our heavenly Father.

Life on earth is meaningless. Life with God is our meaning for living.

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone;;as though we had never been here. But the love of the Lord remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’t children of those who are faithful to His covenant., of those who obey His commandments.”    Psalm 103:13-18

ImageLet’s build our meaning in building a kingdom with Christ; witness to someone today.

Do I Really Want to be Healed?

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“Inside the city…was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people–blind, lame, or paralyzed–lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, He asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone always gets there ahead of me.”                                                                                        John 5:2-7

Would you like to get well…what kind of question is that??? Why would any person who was in pain not want to be healed?

God is so faithful to speak to us when He is ready to move, and I believe that He is ready to move in my life to remove the pain that is keeping me from fully serving Him. Why do I think that? Confirmation. Last night as I wrote in my journal before I went to sleep I closed it out with, “Lord, heal me of anything that would keep me from fulfilling the ministry You have laid on my heart.” Now, I do not doubt that God can still heal miraculously. What I doubt is why I should receive another major healing. When I start to think of asking God to heal me, I go to the Scriptures that Paul wrote and I claim the disease as my “thorn in my side.” So when I realized what I had written, it was followed by a quickly breathed, “If it be Your will, Lord. Heal me.”

Then, this morning when my daughter called, she said, “Mom, God is going to heal you. I know that He is.” Just out of the clear, blue sky. And she said that she had put me on a couple of prayer chains for healing. God spoke to her and she obeyed.

And all morning I had the verses above in my mind about the man by the pool of Bethesda and how God’s first question was, “Would you like to get well?” God is speaking to me and I am answering with a resounding, “Yes! I want to get well!” I want lungs full of air that can sing hallelujah’s and I want energy to spread the word about the Prayers for Prodigals Ministry that God placed on my heart. I want to remember the people that I counsel with so I can lift them up in prayer by name and by their loved ones’ names.

Do you want to get well? Whatever the ailment is, whether mental, physical or emotional, do you want God to heal it? Or are you sitting by the pool waiting for someone to pay attention to you? The attention you get from your pain is not the attention you want. Give it to God. Let Him heal you and release His power through your testimony that others may be healed.

Hallelujah! God heals.

 

 

Nothing is Possible Without God

It is impossible for an addict to be truly healed without God. It is possible to be delivered from the urges through many recovery programs, but until the addict turns their lives, thoughts, heart and motives over to God for healing, they will never walk in the knowledge that God is in control and He has replaced the desires of the world with His desires.

Prayers for Prodigals

 

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Proverbs 3:5-6 says,  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take.” I believe this with all of my heart. Prayers for Prodigals is the result of a ministry that I head up with the same title. I never thought that the pain I have been through could be glorifying to God, but it is. Each time our support group meets, I feel a little closer to Him. I let the Holy Spirit lead me in the counseling and prayer and I give it all to Him. I trust God to lead me in the right path for this ministry and I will not turn back, no matter what is happening in my life.

And I guess that is why this book was so important for me to write. Whether you have a loved one addicted to drugs, sex, or alcohol, you will find someone in this book that has been there. No names; just stories that I have been told over that past 6 years as I myself faced the turmoil of being the parent of a prodigal. And prayers, lots and lots of prayers. As they came to me I wrote them down so that you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit the same as I did.

One excerpt from the book states it like this:

The importance is not in whether or not you receive the answer you want; the importance is in that you turn yourself over to God. That is how you get on with your life. That is how you start to really know God and trust that His ways are higher, and better. 

Maybe you don’t have loved ones with addictions, but I bet you know some. If you feel led, share this book with them.  https://www.createspace.com/4656186.

I know that God is going to bless all who read, because He was faithful to fulfill this work in me.

God is Not Silent

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“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God, and he has spoken; he has summoned all humanity from where the sun rises to where it sets. From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance. Our God approaches, and he is not silent.”                     Psalm 50: 1-3a

When I took this photo all I could think of was what a beautiful painter God is. The sky is His canvas and it paints anew each day. As I stood looking at this and watching the scene change as the sun rose higher and higher, I felt the Holy Spirit starting to stir in me. What was he saying? Was there a message in the beauty before me that I was missing? I listened in the silence, praying for God to speak to me a little louder so that I could hear His voice. But still, the silence.

I heard the birds start their morning songs and the leaves rustled in the slight breeze that drifted through my hair. My Scruffy dog stood by my side, his soft fur gently brushing against my leg. I looked up and the sun had risen a little higher in the sky; the clouds seemed to part to let it through. I heard no voice, no words from God. So I sat on the porch swing and wondered. Was I just imagining the stirring in my spirit? Silence.

The soft creak of the swing, the rustle of the leaves, the chirping of the birds and silence.

“Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.”                                         Psalm 66:16-20

On November 06, 1976 I prayed for God to help me. I was a sinner and I needed to confess and be forgiven. He heard me. He forgave me. He listened. He spoke. He spoke words of love and acceptance through the people he put in my way. He led me gently down the path of righteousness through the teaching and prodding of the Holy Spirit. He spoke then, and he never stopped speaking.

And in the silence of the sun rising, God spoke. I knew that He was speaking those same words of reassurance today, as He did all those years ago. When is God silent? Never. In one way or another, He is speaking.