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Slippery Slope

Have you ever had a spiritual high, only then to slide into the valley at lightening speed?  You  come home from a fabulous spirit-filled retreat and discover the water heater burst and flooded the house, or the entire family contracts the stomach virus, or you get an IRS audit notice in the mail. Why Lord? Couldn’t You have let me feel great for just a while longer?

Jesus understands. The same thing happened to Him:

 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness… (Mark 1:9-12)

At once…bam. Why?

Perhaps because our faith is forged in trials.

Perhaps so His human pride wouldn’t swell.

Perhaps because God knows we cannot exist on emotional highs.

If there were not valleys, would we appreciate the mountain tops? Jesus never told us becoming a believer meant an easy road where the potholes would vanish. Far from it.

What comforts me is the last part of Mark 1:13…

and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Emphasis mine).

What have I learned?

First, God prepared Jesus. He gave Him the spiritual high, the encouragement, and the faith to head into the wilderness, knowing it was coming. He gave Him His purpose- You are My Son, with you I am well pleased. 

Second, God never left Him. He sent angels to minister to Him.

Because of His experience on earth as a human, Jesus understands the slippery slope off the mountain into the valley. He gets the fact that life is tough. He knows that evil can chip away  our armor of faith.

But He is God, too. He knows when those “Oops” are going to come for us. He will prepare us for them, and guide us through them. Even in the wilderness, we can find His blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Place

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening He went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear Him at the temple” (Luke 21:37-38).

I’d never noticed it before. Perhaps I am the only one. But in the Scripture passage above it states that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to rest and rejuvenate after each day of teaching to the crowds. It became His refuge.

Now it makes sense that He would go there His last night on earth to pray and rededicate Himself for the torturous mission that lay ahead. It was the one place He’d often found peace. And that night, He needed it more than ever before.

Do you have a place of peace?

Perhaps it is the park down the block, or an off the beaten path stretch of beach. Maybe it is closer to home such as a bench in your garden, a soaking tub filled with bubble bath (and if you have kids, a locked door!), or a cozy chair draped with a prayer shawl.

Wherever your peace place is, go there.  Take a few deep breaths. God will meet you. Just as He met His Son on the night before the most important day of His ministry. We all need a break now and then.

 


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:  Issues I Face  and The Life.   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, one mouse click at a time.
In 2017, over 10 million viewed and or responded to our internet presence and over a half million went deeper to learn more about Jesus.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at https://thelifeproject.com/team/julie/  

Toe Jammers

And it will be said: “Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people” (Isaiah 57:14).

Have you ever watched a bulldozer dig a path? Flat ground and grassy plains can hide rocks just below the surface. Toe jammers. Ones that you can’t see and may make you stumble.

Life is filled with toe jammers at times.  The path seems smooth, but wait. Ouch. Stubbed it again. Didn’t see that coming. Your eyes were on the horizon, on where you thought you should be headed.

Here is a thought. God put them there. Not to be cruel. Not to laugh as you hop and caress your throbbing big toe. Perhaps the half-hidden obstacles are there due to a natural course of time, just as stones can become eroded and buried in the soil. However, if we acknowledge that God is the Creator and knows where our stumbling stones lie, perhaps it will cause us to turn to Him for guidance more often.

My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled (Psalm 17:5).

Jesus called Simon Peter, but first He removed a few obstacles. When Peter and his brothers cast their nets and caught the net-full of fish (Luke 5:1-11), Biblical experts say that made them enough money to feed and clothe their families for three years–the amount of time they’d be traveling with Jesus.  One more bump in the road. Peter’s mother in law was ill. Jesus healed her (Luke 4:38-39).

One more stumbling block- Peter’s zeal often made him impulsive. God didn’t instantly change Peter’s personality, good or bad. He let Peter thump his toe a few times. Throughout his time with Jesus, Peter found himself in situations that our Lord used to mold him into eventually becoming the leader God knew he could be. Several times he stumbled, and it hurt. But in the end, God purposed it.

Two lessons from Simon Peter:

Thank Him for the toe jammers. They are there for a purpose.  Just as they were for Peter.

But also know that if bigger obstacles are in the path He has set for you, He will remove them. Just as He did for Peter so he could follow Jesus.


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:  Issues I Face  and The Life.   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, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

 

 

 

 

 

I found God moving in my life this week – literally – as He answered two prayers: finances and living conditions.

My doctor says I should not climb stairs again. Hard to do when you are planted in a second floor apartment. The only first floor one available in my complex is $72 more a month! OUCH! The new manager wouldn’t negotiate, so it’s moving time in a few months. (I have to give 60 day notice — she wouldn’t budge on that either.)

After a teary weekend praying and looking online, I found three I could afford. A friend drove me around to each.  Nada. Either no first floor unit or a long waiting list.

We pulled over and prayed, then turned the corner and saw another complex. It looked nice.  Never saw it online, and I’d virtually looked at 62 listings of available apartments in my city over the weekend. Even so, we both felt a strong urge to go check it out.

Sure enough, a unit on the first floor had  become available that day, scheduled to be ready for occupancy on the very day I am released from my old lease in 60 days! Thank you, Jesus!

Ready for this? There is a handicap ramp and parking space right at the front doorway. I will be needing that for quite sometime yet.

It get’s better. It is $84 less than I am paying now.  That’s a utility or cable bill difference.  When you are on fixed income, that is HUGE! Prayer number 2…answered.

Yep, I cried again as we drove away, this time in gratitude. God is so amazingly awesome, I cannot begin to describe His wondrous power.  But this is just a hint of what He has planned for those who trust and believe in Him.

Sure, I will basically be sequestered in my second story apartment a while longer. Gives me lots of time to slowly pack! (If you live in Fort Worth and want to help for an hour or so in early March…)

Whatever you are going through, whatever obstacles loom in front of you casting a shadow of gloom, our Lord knows about them and has a plan to explode them into tiny pieces you can kick aside. Or He will offer you a way around them.  No, not a way — the best way. Just keep on praying. His timing is always perfect.

God definitely “moves” in mysterious ways. If you are not planted where you are supposed to be, He will make arrangements to move you — just as He has for me.

Burn Out Refill

Do you ever feel nearly burned out? Can’t really hum This Little Light of Mine with fervor at that moment? Yeah, I know the feeling.

One of my duties at church is to make sure the candles on the altar are filled with  liquid wax/oil so they do not burn out during the service.  Because it is hard to determine the amount of influence the AC vents will have on the burn rate Sunday to Sunday, we always “top them off”… just in case.

Today, as I squirted the liquid inside the cylinders, God spoke to me. “You are running low, Julie. You need to be filled anew. Let Me refill you.”

And I have been. I admit it.  My light isn’t shining as brightly as it should because I have been dimmed by physical pain and a questioning of whether or not I have a secure employment future in this new year. Being a missionary is tough, especially when the funds don’t roll in.

Yes, I know…God provides. But lately my trust has slowly burned down to below normal levels. And that is when the devil can slip into the dark corners of the mind and begin to whisper doubts.

Today, my task at church reminded me of the parable of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25. The ones who kept their lamps primed with oil were the wise ones. They were always ready for the bridegroom.

As Christians, we should strive to always have our lamps filled so we are ready to shine when God calls upon us to do so– and to ward off the darkness where doubt, envy, and pouting lurks.When we shine our light brightly, it not only helps another to see the path but us as well. God illuminates us both, as well as others off to the side whom we may not notice are watching and wondering.

We can be refilled with the Holy Spirit through prayer and by meditating on His Word.  If we don’t do so regularly, our levels of faith will drop. We will shine brightly for a while, but slowly start to flicker and dim.  And when the time comes for God to use us, we  may not have enough in reserve.

So, if you don’t want to risk burnout think about how you can constantly be refilled…just in case. Then ask the Lord to help refill you so you are always ready to shine.

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.  Psalm 18:28.

 

 

 


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:  Issues I Face  and The Life.   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, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

Words Fail Me

When she saw the indescribable, she slapped her hands to her face as her eyes widened. “Words fail me.”

As a writer, words are my life. But sometimes they just don’t come. I struggle to find the precise one to describe what I want to say.

Words fail in other ways. In times of tragedy and deep grief they fail to comfort. To a close-eared and defiant person they fail to correct. When opposite of the actions exhibited, they fail to convince.

But that is not true of one word – the Word. When foretelling that she would give birth to Jesus, the angel told the young virgin Mary. “For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:37).   Other translations say that nothing is impossible for God.

God spoke everything into existence in Genesis chapter one, and He continues to speak into our existence today. God’s Word can be trusted to be true. He cannot fail, it is not in His nature.

Down through the centuries, the Scriptures have remained true, and faithful, for each generation. What was written thousands of years ago are as fresh as new ink  dripping from a quill.  People have marked them, highlighted them, memorized them, pondered over them, but most of all relied upon them.

Mary did as well. Her response to the angel that day, according to the King James Version, was “Be it unto me according to thy word.” (vs.38)   Other translations translate it as,  “May your word be fulfilled in me.”

And God took Mary at her word.  John, in writing his gospel, tells us Jesus was “the word made flesh.” (1:14)

Today, the unfailing Word can take on flesh when it lives in us. If we, like Mary, allow it to happen, our lives will change forever.  It is not an easy road living for Christ and having Him live in us according to His Word, but it is a fulfilling one.  At times we may feel as if we are failing at our job, but we aren’t. He can use our blunders as well as our successes to His glory and gives us second, third, and even seventy times seven chances when we humbly repent.

Words may continue to fail us at various times in our lives, but the Word of God never will. May it be fulfilled in you.

 


The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s  Power to Change, I edit and write for two websites that draw people closer to God:  Issues I Face  and The Life.   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, one mouse click at a time.
But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. And at this moment, an anonymous beneficiary will match any and all donations up to one hundred thousand dollars. 
Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html 

Boxed Up to Share

Happy Boxing Day!  Traditionally, the day after Christmas was when the lord of the manor  let his staff have the day off, and  gave them year-end presents to share with their families as a thank you for the year of service to his family.  Today, Christmas Day is reserved for immediate family, but Boxing Day is a day for gifting to friends, co-workers, employees, and neighbors. It’s a time of sharing and saying thank you.

Here in the U.S., we think of it more as Return Day.  Gather what you got for Christmas and can’t wear, don’t like or would never use, and box it up to go back to the store. If you are lucky, you can get what you really wanted on sale and have a few dollars left over.

December 26th is also St. Stephen’s Day – the day named after the first Christian martyr. He was brought into the band of believers to replace Judas, and was stoned to death for proclaiming the Gospel. You might say he gave the ultimate gift, and in giving it away, received an even greater one.   While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)

What do you do with the gift of mercy and grace that Jesus gives? Do you use it, shelf it, or re-gift it? Do you return it unopened, or share it with others?  Do you hold it tightly to your heart, or share it to someone who needs it?

Because His mercies are new every morning, each day is Boxing Day for the believer. And the cool thing is this: the more you give it away the more you receive to give.

What will you do with the gift of Life today?

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