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False Security

 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved..John 10:9

I live in a gated community. In reality, it is little more than a false sense of security. I have lived here four years, and the code has never changed. Every pizza and package delivery knows it. The tenants who move in and out every six months to a year know it.  But even if the manager was more diligent in changing the code, it wouldn’t really matter.

The same gate that lets a car in also lets a car out. In this warren of residencies, one usually only has to wait a few minutes before another car appears, wishing to exit. No code needed. Slip right on through as they drive out. To avoid lawsuits, I imagine, the gates open and close very slowly, and if they detect a car in the path, they will stop and reopen. This allows at least two or three cars to zip through at a time.

What we need is a guard 24/7 to monitor who passes in and out. But that would be too pricey.

Why am I telling you all this? We each put up barriers and boundaries to keep us safe in our personal space. Rules, internal alarms, habits. However, there is also a gate. A gate you assume will stay closed during the times you want to stay safe, but in reality, can allow lots of things to seep in. That whisper that tells you this one time will be okay. You won’t really be breaking the rules. You are being bold, adventurous, trying something new. That new idea which makes you think perhaps your boundaries have been too rigid and unfair. An interpretation of Scripture that opens your eyes to a more broad understanding, adding a new lane along the road to salvation.

Jesus told His first-century listeners that He was the gate for the sheep. The people who heard His words understood the analogy. Shepherds would lead their sheep from pastures into a communal enclosed area at night. This was in order to watch over them and protect them from predators and poachers. The shepherds then laid down in the gap and guarded the entrance. Nothing came in or out without their permission.

The Holy Spirit is our mind’s gate. The gate code is the Word of God. Whenever something rattles our thoughts, we should ask, does it jibe with what I know to be Truth? Even so, if we rely solely on our own understanding, it can be a false security. Many people use the gate code, and not always for good purposes.

We need the Gatekeeper, 24/7. Don’tworry, He already paid the price.

 


Besides writing this  blog, I  have a digital ministry. The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month. Some are believers, others don’t know what to believe. All are seeking. We help them know Jesus.

But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

 

Compass-ion

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
I have a horrible sense of direction. No internal compass. As a child I was told my eyes faced north, the back of my head faced south, my left hand pointed west, and my right hand east. But no one explained they had purposely positioned me so this would be true. Later I learned to look for the sun. That gave me an idea where westward sort of was, so I had some sense of direction.
Today, we seem to no longer have a moral compass in our society. We have laws, but the goal now seems to be who has the smartest lawyer who can find a way for the law not to apply to their situation. Children are taught over-tolerance in school, to the point that all behavior is okay and acceptable.

When the Hebrew nation left Egypt, they had a physical guide–God’s compass-ion. Because He cared for them, He guided them safely in the way they needed to journey.

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.Nehemiah 9:19
In our life journey, the Bible is our best compass. When we look to the Son, Jesus, as our example, we get our moral and spiritual bearings. He shows us which way we should go. He is the Way (John 14:6). Because of His compass-ion, once we accept him as our Savior, He embeds an internal compass in our souls called The Holy Spirit to be our guide.
I may not know north from south at times, but I know Who to look for to point the way, be it a decision I need to make, a direction my life needs to go, or whether I should just stand, be still and wait. I look for the Son.
If you are feeling a bit lost today, seek the Compass-ion of God. Let Him direct your path. He won’t steer you wrong.

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


Meandering

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
In school I was taught the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. In the school of faith, I have learned God doesn’t always take the shortest route. More often than not He meanders.
A sprinkler began to leak at my apartment complex. The parking lot is sloped on purpose so the runoff will head for the creek beyond the trees. Easiest way for the water to flow? Diagonal straight line. Or so I’d think.
But it doesn’t. It makes weird twists and turns through the asphalt and concrete, being thwarted and changing directions by things I cannot see, or do not notice. It flows one way, then another, then another. Slowly…eventually, it will get to where it is supposed to be headed.
I stared at the trailing stream of water and saw my life. Very few times have things turned out as I planned. A circumstance suddenly altered my path. Something I couldn’t see. It led me a new direction for a while. At times I felt off track, and yet, from a bird’s eye view,  I was headed  the way I was supposed to go after all.
Once again I found a tangible way to remember to have faith. God is directing my path, when I let Him. Some obstacles are my doing, many are for His purpose. His ways are not mine. But eventually, I will get to where I need to go. There are lessons to learn along the way as I meander through His merciful and grace-filled landscape called life.
Lord, keep me flowing in the way You have designed. You are the source-spring of Living Water that flows through me and directs me in the way I need to go. Amen.

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


How Much Do You Need?

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.

 

Houseplant lovers know that different ones require different care. There are low-light plants and then there are those that won’t thrive unless the sun is gleaming on them most of the day. Some prefer diffused light near a south or north window or their leaves will burn while others relish the afternoon western sunbeams.

Those exposed to the sun the most often need to be watered the most. You can tell when they are parched. Their leaves droop dramatically. Others you have to stick your finger into the soil to determine their need for water.

Some cacti and succulents will absorb and retain water.  They relish the water they get and store it up so they always have enough, even in drought times. But they need the bright sun all the same.

Low light plants thrive with a  slightly moist soil. They need steady applications of filtered sun and smaller amounts of water regularly to keep the roots dampened. In fact, too much of either will thwart their growth.

Many plants need more water when they are young or newly transplanted into a different soil or pot. Once their roots are well established and can retain what has been given they do just fine with less.

What sort of plant are you, spiritually speaking? Are you always in need of God’s light shining on you or you will not thrive well? Do you constantly need His Word, worship, praise music, quiet time, prayers of others and other spiritual stimuli to keep you going?

Or, are you a low-light plant? A little of God’s mercy and grace goes a long way, however you do need it regularly…in small doses. Too much is a bit overwhelming. Sitting in the corner or off to the side of the window is fine with you.

Perhaps you are a cacti. Not to say you are prickly… but you thrive best with the brightness of God shining constantly in your life and still have the ability to store up His Word for times of need. You can take a lot of heat, too.

The point is, God created you and He knows your needs. One plant is not better than the other. An ivy should never think it needs to be a cactus nor an orchid think it should be an air plant. All make the world (or the home) a better place. All absorb carbon monoxide and produce oxygen. All add green lushness, vitality, and  a peaceful beauty to a room.

We thrive best in different environments. My plants rely on my knowing their needs in order for them to thrive and grow. How much more so does our loving God, the Master Gardener, knows what it takes to keep each of us alive in Him?

I found a message from God today while tending to my plants. Where will you find Him?

 


The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html


The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

Today a memory floated to the forefront of my mind. We’d moved to another metropolis.  After a while my mother came to visit. The second day, as I drove her around, she gazed out her passenger window and sucked in a shaky sigh. “I’m sure glad you know where you’ re going because I haven’t a clue.”

I bit my tongue, but in my mind I thought, “What a silly thing to say. Of course you don’t. You have never been here before.”

But now, years later, I understand her angst. She had grown up and lived (and later died) in one city all her life. She knew the streets, the neighborhoods, and the detours. It was her comfort zone.  Riding around with me in a new town, she was way far out of it.

Why did this surface in my brain today? Because right now I relate to my mom. I have whispered in prayer the very same thing to God. I have no idea where I am headed. Nothing seems familiar on this road…except the other person riding with me.

But instead of saying, “Silly woman. Of course you don’t. You have never been this way before,” God gently reminds me, “Yes, but I do. Trust me one more time. I’m right here with you every step of the way.”

I can feel Him pat my shoulder and almost see Him wink. “And by the way, I’m driving so sit back and relax.”

I suck in a shaky sigh….

 

 


The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

I Remember

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

You probably have a shelf or two of them as well. Photos, knick-knacks, chotzkies. Things that are precious to you and evoke memories as soon as you notice them. A figurine from your great-grandmother, which you might take to that Antique Show one day to have it valued, sits next to the clay thingamajig  your child made for Mother’s Day in second grade. Fading photos of your kids, siblings, parents, and maybe relatives long crossed over to the other side of eternity brings happy tears welling in the corners of your eyes.

You love to point them out to visitors and tell them the story behind each one…if they’ll listen, that is. If you move, I imagine they’ll get an extra layer of bubble wrap.

IMG_20170911_082056584

Do you have a similar, mental shelf filled with the serendipities and miracles God has performed in your life? Do you hold them close to your heart and keep them fresh in your mind to meditate upon on those days you wonder what the purpose to all this is, if things will really turn out alright,  or if He hears your pleas?

Maybe you do, and they are recorded in the back if your Bible or in journals. If so, carve out some quiet time this week to go over them, savor them and thank God anew for them.

If you don’t, that’s okay. You can begin to collect them now. How? Simply ask God to help you recall them. Then be attentive when He brings them to mind.

He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

When we recall all that God has done for us, our attitude can’t help but shift towards the positive. Just like a gas tank, the recounting of His past mercies and favors pumps into our emptiness and makes us full again. As we think about what God has done for us in the past, we can’t help but know He will come through again. His nature is constant. He is unchanging.

He was your Help, your Strength, your Refuge, your Joy and Salvation yesterday, and six months ago, and five years ago. He will be so again today, and for the rest of your tomorrows. Remember that, always.

 

If you have been following my blog for very long, you know I love words. Today, God brought a thought to my mind as I pondered the letter tiles P-O-E in a game I play with friends. The only space I could place them was off an “N”.

I could play

OPEN 

or

NOPE.*

It all depends on where I place the N.

One reveals possibilities, the other shuts them down.

It all depends on where I place the N.

What is your “N”?  When faced with a challenge do you react with positive anticipation, or do you immediately turn to the negative?

Are you open to looking at things from a new angle, perhaps God’s way instead of your own, or do you sit down and shut down? “No way, can’t be done, nope.”

Are your arms stretched out in a “show me, Lord” gesture, or crossed over your chest?

Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…” (Revelation 3:20).

Will you open your mind and heart to the Lord today, or say, “Nope, not my idea,” shut the door and turn away? Faith opens the way, fear and worry close it off.

It all depends where you decide to place the N.

 

*Okay, word aficionados, I could have also played PONE… and relate it to the Bread of Life, but that would be stretching it, don’t you think? Maybe in another devo…

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, our free articles and devotionals glean a readership of 500,000 plus a month.  But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

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