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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?

 

I belong to a donor-supported internet ministry. We have over 500,000 readers a day click on our websites at The Life Project. If you'd like to support me, please click here: 
 https://thelifeproject.com/give/?designation=111070 and choose US Editorial. Thanks.

In Your Eyes

...the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23

As I was applying my eyeliner today, I thought about it in a spiritual way. Yep, God revealed a truth to me as I put on my make-up. Guys, you may not wear eye makeup, but this can “apply” to you as well. Read on to find out why.

In ancient Egypt, when women and men lined their eyelids with kohl it actually helped them see better.  In fact, scientists say it might have had medicinal purposes. Not only did the dark kohl deflect the harmful glare bouncing off the desert, but it kept the sandy soot from penetrating their eyes, preventing infections like pink eye. So much for the sandman.

For more than a century athletes have smudged black lines under their eyes so they can see the ball coming toward them.  It reduces the glare from the sun and the stadium lights. Of course nowadays these under eye protectors are fancier. They are removeable “eyeblack” patches with team logos on them.

Us ladies figured out a long time ago that etching color around our lids make our eyes pop and appear more attractive. People notice us when our eyes are bright, interesting, and colorful.

So, here is the spiritual application…

God’s love outlines us. It protects us from harm, helps us see things more clearly, and attracts people to us.

  • By outlining our spiritual eyes with Scripture, the Holy Spirit gives us protection from things that might blind us and make us, well…drop the ball.  Being surrounded by the Word also keeps sooty things from penetrating us, causing an infection of worldliness.
  • We can observe things with clarity, and also see things through our Father’s eyes. The glare of prejudice, anger, envy and pride are deflected.
  • It draws people to us.  The love of Christ shines in our eyes and that attracts others who want to know why we have such joy and how can they have it as well. In a gray-filmed, negative world, faith can add meaning and color.

They say you can read a person’s mood by their eyes. Today, what spiritual eye make-up will you don before heading out into the world? Will you line how you view people with God’s joy, forgiveness, love and kindness?

 

I belong to a donor-supported internet ministry. We have over 500,000 readers a day click on our websites at The Life Project. If you’d like to support me, please click here:
https://thelifeproject.com/give/?designation=111070 and choose US Editorial. Thanks.

 

 

I have heard serene and beautiful places described as a “little piece of heaven”.  It may be a pristine beach with tumbling waves glistening in the moonlight. A vast mountain vista or a bubbling creek under the canopy of shade trees. But it is ONLY a piece. It cannot replace the inner peace that comes from Heaven.

Why? Because where we live and move and have our being is time-bound.  Our world is ever changing– minute to minute, second to second. Weather can affect that serenity. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and blizzards ravage the earth. Human progress can affect it as well. Bulldozers can topple mountains and oil tankers spill black gunk into the water, coating everything. And even if the serene views remain intact, our human emotions can discolor it. When we are angry or depressed we often block out birdsong and sunshine filtering through the leaves. No wonder cartoonists depict a dark cloud over the head of their characters. If there is one thing that is definitely not constant, it’s our mood.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

This peace that passes all understanding, as Paul describes it, is not affected by change. It is constant, eternal, and unmoving. It doesn’t come and go, or ebb and flow.  It is there like a solid foundation that is unshakeable even in times of turmoil. You can cling to it and know it’s not going to crumble.  This peace only comes from anchoring our hearts, minds and souls into the living waters of our faith in God. It transcends whatever is happening in our ever-changing world, because His peace is not of this world. It is Heaven-sent.   In John 16:33, Jesus said, “…in me you can have peace.”

Two words that sound the same but are so different.

The first one, pIEce – where the IE stands for I Enjoy – is fleeting. It can be gone in a moment.

The other is pEAce  – where the EA stands for Eternal Access. For the believer, it is always there, no matter what.

Which will you choose to bask in?

 

I belong to a donor-supported internet ministry. We have over 500,000 readers a day click on our websites at The Life Project. If you’d like to support me, please click here:
https://thelifeproject.com/give/?designation=111070 and choose US Editorial. Thanks.

Dust Cover

I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:25

I battle it. You probably do as well. Dust. That fine film of gunk that covers your furniture and knick-knacks. Daily it accumulates. At first you may not notice it but as it builds, eventually you see it — especially when the sun shines on it.  I found a God-message in this household chore. Do you see it as well?

We live in a dusty world. Nothing remains clean for long. It flitters down on everything, coating it in filth. You can use every product in the world– dusters, polishes, sprays, rags. They wipe away the dust, but they do not eliminate it. It keeps coming back.

The only way to keep something from getting dusty is to cover it. If you lift your knick knack off a bookshelf, you will see what I mean. There will be very little dust where it sat. The wood underneath remained fairly clean. Did the dust only settle on the area where the wood shelf was exposed? No, it settled on the knick knack, too.

Where the Holy Spirit covers and protects us, we are kept clean. But in those areas of our lives we have not let Him cover us, then the dust of the world fitlers over us. We can try to keep wiping it off but it will come back, coating our souls in worldliness. The only way to eliminate it is to regularly cloak it with grace and mercy, found in prayer time and in reading the Word.

I must daily confess the areas of my life I have yet to ask God to cover. I can keep trying to handle it on my own, and appear clean on the outside, but I know I am fighting a losing battle. It is only when I give those areas over and ask for protection that I can keep the dust of this world from finely coating me. And, God being the loving Father, will shine His light on those areas, revealing the filth so I can see it better. It may be a negative attitude, a judgemental heart, an unresolved anger, a misconceived thought, a worldly view.

As long as I am in this world, there will be dust. I am surrounded by it. But I can also be covered by the Lord, shielded from it’s effects. Christ died to cover my sins. But I know that is not a one-time thing because I continually exist on this planet. Each day, when I turn to Him, He keeps me clean. He takes on the dustiness for me. He wipes it away and keeps it from settling on me.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Luke 11:24-25

 

I belong to a donor-supported internet ministry. We have over 500,000 readers a day click on our websites at The Life Project. If you’d like to support me, please click here:
https://thelifeproject.com/give/?designation=111070 and choose US Editorial. Thanks.

 

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