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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

Clouded View

It can happen in a matter of minutes. A beautiful sunshiny day can become overcast, gloomy, and dank. A wet fog rolls in and blankets everything. It clings to you as you strain to see beyond a few feet in front of you. You feel closed in, almost claustrophobic. Your hands are tempted to swoosh it away like you would debris when swimming in a river or lake. But it closes back in after a millisecond.

Life imitates nature, doesn’t it? I know there have been times my outlook was quite sunny. My world was just about perfect and I felt happy, accomplished, blessed. Then a situation or circumstance hit. Suddenly I felt as if I was encased in a fog. All sense of direction lost. I couldn’t see my way. My dreams and plans vanished in the thickness of the now.

Peter, John and James experienced this. I’d read the transfiguration story in the Gospels many, many times. But recently,Luke 9:34 leaped out at me. And God whispered a lesson to me. Because you see, I’ve been in a fog lately.

Jesus took these men up on the mountain to pray, as told in Luke 9:28-36. It must have been a gorgeous vista. Their Lord had gone up into the mountains to pray before, but always alone. Now He invited them. Not all of the twelve, just these three. Can you see their proudful struts, their smiles? What could be better?  Then they see Jesus’ countenance change into a dazzling white as the two most important, holy people in their tradition, Moses and Elijah, descended to be by his side. Wow. Talk about a Kodak moment! But they didn’t have that modern invention. No phones for selfies. So, Peter suggested they do what their patriarchs had done when encountering God breaking through to earth. Build an altar. Erect a tabernacle. Mark the moment.

As he [Peter] said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.” (Luke 9:34).  In rolled the blinding fog. Their view of the holiest thing they’d ever witnessed blocked off. The moment gone. Their breaths stolen.

But God didn’t leave them there. “A voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'” (vs.35). Focus not on yourselves, but on Jesus. Erase your self-oriented thoughts. Let Him lead you. This isn’t about Jesus acknowledging you, it’s about you acknowledging my Son.

The good news is that God doesn’t leave us either. Even if we can’t see Him though the circumstances that are clouding our faith, He can still break through to comfort us, correct us, and lovingly guide us back to what we need to be focusing upon–Him. Just as He did for me as I read this passage in Scripture.

Fogs don’t last forever. The sun will break through again. But in the meantime perhaps we are supposed to stop and no longer rely on our own abilities. Instead, let us listen for God’s directive voice. Then when the sun does break through and we can see again, like Peter James and John in verse 36, let us continue to focus on Jesus alone.

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV

Christian writer Jon Davis states in his commentary on the Book of James 1:2-3, “We don’t give up or give in. We persevere in faith…”  *

It is a matter of direction. Where to do place this trial I am experiencing right now? What do I do with it?

God whispered to me, “I know you are frustrated. After months and months you are not healing. The pain keeps hanging on. Don’t give up or give in. Instead give it over.” I’m to take my trials and give them over to Christ to use as He wills, be it to train me up, to make me more empathetic to others, to strengthen my faith, and above all to give it purpose.

When we know something has purpose, we have hope. And when we have hope, we open our hearts, minds and souls to give…

– God-focused

I – Intellectually  – with my mind

V – Vocationally – with my body and ability

– Emotionally – with my heart

Then pure joy will be possible despite what is going on in our lives.

No matter who we are, how old we are, or how physically capable we are, we can all give. God has blessed us with experiences, talents, and Spirit- guided incites that we can offer to others. When we give it all over to Him — the good, the bad and the ugly — then He can mold it into something of use. As we begin to see the purpose taking shape in the potter’s hand, we have the ability to persevere. But when we can’t see it taking shape yet, we must ask God to give us the faith to trust HE will eventually use it. One day, we will look back, smile, and say, “OK. Now I get it.”

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What is He calling you to give over, today?  Give it in joy. It’s better than holding on to it as you pout, or tossing it away angrily. The only way to not boomarang our trials is to place them in nail-scarred hands that never let go.

 


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 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

*The Journey, God’ s Word for Daily Living  May-August 2017  Bible Reading Fellowship

A Cat Tale

“Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for…” Job 6:8

I used to walk in the door at the end of my workday and find my cat sitting on his haunches, waiting.  Not because he missed me. No delusions here.  I know he waited for me to open the can of food since he has no thumbs. Now that I am working at home, he doesn’t get it. He thinks he can beg whenever he wants and as his dutiful servant I will pop another lid off a can.

“Meow?”

“Not yet.”

Purrs louder. “Mew?”

“Nope. You have to wait.”

“MEOW!”

“I said, “No.'”

We have this battle often throughout the day until it is finally time to feed him.  Each and every day. Yep, gets on my nerves…

Then I thought…

Is this how I treat you, Lord?

Do I come to You, yank on Your luminate robe and whimper, “Daddy, please. Can I have it now?”

Do  I respect Your no, not yet and you-have-to-wait answers? Or do I tug some more?

Just because I know You are around, is that any reason to keep bugging you, or can I simply bask in Your presence knowing You will provide when it is the right time?  I know You want me to lay my requests at Your feet, Lord, but not to daily whine to You about them, unwilling to listen to  and obey Your response.

Forgive me, precious Lord when I act as impatient as my cat and only want from You rather than desire  to serve You. Remind me You are the Master, and You know what is best for me. Your timing is always perfect. Calm me down and bring me the peace of trusting in You for all things. In Jesus’ name and through Your Spirit, Amen.

 

The internet is the new mission field. At Campus Crusades’ The Life Project, we have a readership of 500,000 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

I cringed at the doctor’s suggestion. A nerve  conduction study. Right. Zap the nerve that has had me limping and losing sleep for months. Make it hurt even more. Good plan…but necessary so they can discover where the pinching originates.  As the day approached, I prayed more consistently and constantly but my mind kept reminding me of the last time I had one and the tearful screams as that needle…oh, my.

Be not far from me for trouble is near…” (Psalm 22:11)  Cast all your care on Him for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) 

I kept repeating verses to offset my growing angst. Even pleaded with my biological chauffeur (my son), who has so patiently transported me to and fro over the past few months since I haven’t been able to drive, to come  into room with me. There stood the dreaded torture, I  mean diagnostic, instrument. Silent. Benign…until turned on and the leads adhered to my skin. The doctor came in with a sympathetic smile. “Technology has advanced. The needles and shocks are smaller. We will try to make this as easy on you as possible.” Oh, I wanted with all my heart to believe him.

God, help me in my time of need…buzzt, jerk, zap. Hey, not too bad. On we went from my toes to my hip. Each step of the way the doctor told me what to expect. And then, it was over. I survived.

How often do we worry unnecessarily? Why do we say we have faith and yet hop down treacherous, fictitious  bunny trails? I’ve heard it said that 90% of what we worry about never comes to pass, or isn’t half as bad as we predicted. I’ve also read that there are 365 verses in the Bible that speak to fear and worry, one for each day of the year. For me that means God knows we are “wired” to worry—probably because our innate desire to be in control is constantly tested by an out of control world.

So, I’m not going to beat myself up when anxiousness and “what ifs” knock on my brain. I will faithfully respond with Scripture…again.

A friend on Facebook asked for prayer because she stated she wasn’t sure she could take it. Why do we think we need to do so? Perhaps we need to stop taking it and let it go, giving it to God to handle for us. Reach up with our hands, our lips quivering, and ask Daddy to help. After all, He loved us enough to die for us so He could send His Spirit to be with us always. Of course that means admitting our vulnerability and lack of having it all together.

But if we do, God will guide us through it. Just like the kind, concerned doctor did for me during my tests. Even if it is a bit painful.

Do we have the nerve to do that before we reach our last nerve?

 

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