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Posts Tagged ‘obedience’

What Can I Give Him?

“What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part.

Yet what can I give Him?

Give my heart.”

–Christina Rossetti

In my former church we sang this poem/song every Christmas.  It asks a great question.  At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give each other gifts.  It is only reasonable to consider what we might give Jesus for His birthday.

nativity ornament

He has given us some solid clues.  I will describe four of them in this post and four more in my next post.

I think Jesus would be so grateful for these gifts (more…)

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At Rest by Pablo Picasso

REST.

That was my word for this year.

I have prayed, rested, listened, read.  And I am still seeking to discern what all God has been saying to me.

One very tangible outcome of my focus on REST occurred mid-year.  REST became the theme of the annual June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  For two months leading up to our day on our knees, I wrote mini-devotionals on REST for our community.  I thought I knew where I was going with each one, but God had something specific and different to say with each one.  I have been deeply ministered to by these simple sources of REST.

I am posting the introduction here, followed by links to the other articles.  Though they are written to those who love prodigals, each of us will find REST in these truths.

Take the Day Off

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

Are you tired?  Weary?  Need a break?

When you love a prodigal, it is often easy to say “yes!” to those questions.

Our minds are exhausted trying to know where they are and what they are doing, and striving to find something that works.  Our hearts are so weary from the battle, the confusion, the loss, the fear.  Even our bodies are tired—depleted from conflict, sleep-deprived, worn out from going to and fro looking for help.

God says, “Take the day off.”

He is a fan of rest!  He rested after creating the universe.  He provided a day of rest for us.  In fact, he commanded us to rest—he said everyone in the home, including the animals—needs to take a day off and REST!  He even required that the land get a year off every seven years.

I think God is really serious about REST. And I believe this is the theme he has given us for the 2011 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.  It is just over 9 weeks until June 2—9 weeks for us to prepare to do major battle for our very loved wanderers.

Our first focus will be on finding rest for ourselves—our bodies, our minds, our spirits.  But we will also talk about praying rest for our prodigals.

Just think how weary they must be as they fight against us, against their demons and addictions and against the eternal God.  Perhaps some rest for their souls will give them the will to abandon the fight they have chosen and walk a different path.

Our theme verse is Jeremiah 6:16:  “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Over these next 9 weeks I will send additional thoughts on REST.  Be seeking the Lord for yourself and for your prodigal.

With love and grace,

Judy

Here are the links to the rest of the devotionals on REST:

Rest in His Presence

Rest in Repentance

Rest in Release

Rest in Giving Thanks

Rest on the Right Road

Rest in Obedience

Rest in Perseverance

Rest in the Promises

And finally, here is one more post, previously unpublished:

Rest in Forgiveness

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

I still remember the night he lied to me on his way to spend the night with his girlfriend.

The terrible things he said to me in his great drunkenness.

The night he and his high friends frightened our house guest into her room.

And when he stole from his sister.

The lies, the drinking and drugs, the stealing—they happened a lot.  There were consequences, but there were also God-given grace and mercy.

But those specific events—they have been harder.  I have forgiven them many times.  I put them behind me and move on in peace.  But then something triggers a memory, the pain resurfaces, the anger returns.  And once again I need to consciously extend mercy—I need to forgive.  He, of course, knows nothing of this ongoing battle over past offenses.

Unforgiveness is exhausting.

Eventually our prodigals need to know they are forgiven for all they have done—though usually that need comes after they have made some kind of turn around.  We are the ones who are being worn out and worn down when we are not able to forgive.  But what about consequences?  Yes, there will be consequences.

But we must forgive them—and in that forgiveness we will find rest.

Conflict by definition implies lack of rest.  Conflict, being wronged, the ongoing battle: all of these bring offense, something we hold on to, grievances we embrace.  And that grasping will surely exhaust us.

God has given us the key:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

So, is there something you are holding on to, a wrong from your loved one that you have not forgiven?  Take it to Jesus. Consciously forgive.  Then the door is open for peace.  For conflict to dissipate.  For REST.

In His mercy, Judy

Where have you found rest?

c 2011 Judy Douglass

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“Over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite.”  (1 Chronicles 27:30)

Scripture is filled with the names of great leaders, mighty heroes and wicked villains in God’s story of his love for you and me.

But it also contains the names of many ordinary people—like Obil, who was over the camels.

Your name may not be in Scripture, but it is recorded in God’s books.  In fact, I am sure that your story and my  story are being recorded day by day in our own books.

Surely your story begins with God’s careful designing and weaving you in your mother’s womb.  The date of your physical birth is starred.  And I imagine the dreams and plans God has for you are woven throughout.

The day of your spiritual birth, when your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, has all the marks of a great heavenly celebration.

He recounts the ways He has sought to demonstrate His love for you.  He describes the treasure and joy you are to Him. He records His pleasure in time spent with you, in watching you grow into the person He made you to be, in your discovery of your gifts and strengths, in seeing you obey even the difficult things He asks of you.

And throughout the pages of your book are the stories of your doing the good works for which He created you:  the time you encouraged a despondent friend, when you loved that rather unlovable person, the day you told a friend how to know Jesus, your care for your sick child or elderly parent, the way you do your job for His glory.

Sometimes it may feel like you are stuck with being ”over the camels,” and other times you seem to soar in the confidence and significance of what you are doing.  Often you say yes to His requests, but occasionally you say no.  Sometimes you feel like a great success, other times like an utter failure.   All these times are written in the book.   All matter.

God calls us to faithful obedience to discover and pursue and fulfill His good plans for us.  He loves what He has written so far—and He is eager to unveil the pages to come.

Even the camels.

c Judy Douglass 2010

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This is another in a series of letters to those who have prodigals in their lives.  This is part 8 of the REST theme for this year’s Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals on June 2.

Dear Lover of Prodigals,

“Do you want to adopt him?” The child services rep was speaking to my husband and me.

A pause.

Memories flashed through my mind:

A word from God years before: “I’m sending you a son, and you don’t need to do anything about it.”

The amazing way God brought this boy to us as a 9-year-old foster child.     Who could hardly read or write.  Who was shackled with the results of his birth mother’s drug and alcohol addictions.  Who carried numerous disorders: ADD,     RAD, LD. Who trusted no one, but had so many needs.

He came to our home.  We got him tutoring.  Introduced him to boys from good families.  Made him go to school.           Provided many enriching experiences.  Encouraged spiritual development.

We were far from perfect, but we sought to love him and care for him.

In return we got ingratitude, disrespect, lies, trouble at school.   Our peaceful home became chaotic.  He didn’t care if we adopted him—he agreed because he didn’t see a better option.

Emotionally we—my husband and I and our daughters—thought to say no.  Why should we sign up for more of the past three years, for permanent chaos?

But God’s word came clearly: “I told you I was sending you a son. Why are you rejecting my gift?”

So we said yes.

And in that yes there was rest.

See what the writer of Hebrews tells us:

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it….because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed…Now we who have believed enter that rest….

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.”…  “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” …

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.(Hebrews 4:1-7)

Here’s the really good thing.  One of the things we desire for our prodigals is to learn obedience.  Yes, obedience to us, but especially obedience to God.  How will they learn that? By watching us walk in obedience.

There is rest in obedience.

It is less than 4 weeks till our big day—when we together will boldly enter the Holy of Holy, the Presence of the Most High God, and present to Him our petitions for many hundreds of lost sheep. Keep preparing your own heart as well as breaking up the hardened soil of your loved ones in prayer.

Feel free to send these letters on to friends, or repost my blog posts on Facebook or Twitter—let’s find as many as we can to pray for, and to join us in praying.

Rest well, my friend.

Judy Douglass

c2011 Judy Douglass

If you would like prayer for a loved prodigal, or if you would like to pray with us on June 2, write to us at prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom.

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