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“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” Philippians 2:10

Today I saw the last part of this passage “under the earth”  in a new way. In my neighborhood, all the utilities have gone underground. Cable, phone, and I think even some of the electrical wires, are now all zipping through fiber optic pathways. No more tangle of wires weaving across tar-coated poles. It looks nicer as far as the landscape.  But out of sight out of mind, you almost forget they still exist until someone has to dig up the street. Then, what a hassle and a mess! Traffic has to be rerouted. People run late. Blood pressures rise.

Sometimes, God works underground. His love flows as a constant current.  We rely on it, and sometimes consciously forget that it is there, until we need a dose of it in our lives. Like flipping on a switch or remote control. Click. “Oh, there you are God. Hi. I need you.”

But we are the conduit of His love as well. We are supposed to be passing it on. to others, letting it flow through us and our day to day lives. It should underground all of our thoughts and actions.   And yet, we are also constantly under construction.

The old adage, “God isn’t through with me yet” is true. We all need repairs. Our emotions and human-ness can interrupt the flow. Sometimes, God needs to put on His hardhat and start digging down deep. At first, we think it messes up our daily routes. We get a tad annoyed. Right?

God’s constructive work can jam up a few things in our lives, but it is necessary work.  One day we all will have an uninterrupted flow of faith and every knee will bow at the name of Jesus. But not yet. Until then, we are in a construction zone, and miraculously, God’s love still moves along in spite of it.

Lord, let me welcome your digging into my life so I can be a better conduit of your love and commandments. In Jesus’ name that one day everyone will worship, amen.

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Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured. Jeremiah 46:11

It’s word time again! This time, I made a typo in a work in progress. I meant to type salve and it came out slave. Yep, the brain went into gear again as the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear.  God can teach us from our boo-boos.

When the L and A flip, the meaning become almost the opposite. One is frightening, the other calming. One is horrid, the other welcomed. So what are the L and A?

I see it as the “L” as Lord/love and the “A” as Anxiety/Anger/Anguish. Follow along, now.

We can be slaves to our negative emotions so quickly. It is as if a little elevator in us suddenly rises when the button is pressed. Either anger surfaces or anxiety levels raise when we are transported out of our comfort zones by circumstances we didn’t foresee. Maybe both ride up our esophagus together, pressing against our heart on the way! It “lords” over us. The A pushes past the L. When we choose our anxiety, anger, or anguish to rule, it enslaves us.  It never goes away. It keeps resurfacing, or it festers deep within us and ferments into bitterness.

But turn to the Lord and give Him our “a”s in life, and the experience can become a salve, not only for ourselves but for others as well. We see it through His eyes and love, rubbing deep into our souls and our tenseness, blood pressure, and worry plummets. He is the cure, our Great Physician. Prayer brings the Lord’s answer. His peace can be the salve that soothes. The Balm of Gilead mentioned in Jeremiah.  In the ancient world, this balm from Gilead was known as a rare perfume oil that was used on all sorts of ailments from headaches to sprains to stomach aches to mental disturbances.  It literally was thought to soothe the soul. The A is followed by the L, changing our reaction.

It is an established fact in the medical and psychological community that the healing capability is often linked with the mental state of the patient. Patients with a positive outlook and a deep faith handle their diseases much better. In fact, quite a few miracles have been documented.

Not that faith heals us physically every time, or when an illness isn’t healed it is due to a lack of faith.  We are, after all, temporal beings. But how we face the adversities of life can make a huge difference in our mental, spiritual and physical health.

So, you choose what will follow after the circumstance presents itself. SLAVE or SALVE.  Does the Lord follow the anxiety or anger and calm it down, or do the anxiety and anger chase after the faith and love we know about and pushes them out of the way?

 

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Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their towns to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many. Jeremiah 5:6

Words fascinate me. So God uses them often to get my attention. Today I saw the same letters in two different ways.

W-O-L-F.

What comes to mind when you think of a wolf? For me, it is something wild, snarling, attacking, hunting prey.  Beautiful animals, from a distance. But don’t get too close.

Scripture talks of wolves in this manner. Where I live we don’t have wolves, but we have plenty of their cousins, the coyote.  I lost a kitten to one several years ago. It ventured underneath the fence and the coyote, lurking in the tall grass of the vacant lot,  snatched it in its mouth.  They are stealth in their prowess.

Spiritually, there are a lot of wolves out there. There are ideas that seem beautiful at the time. The lure to run free is tempting. And just when you think all is okay, snatch. The consequences are lethal to the soul.

Wolves run in packs. It is the same with temptations. One rebellious act leads to another. One little backslide sends a person teetering on a slippery slope, ready to tumble.

Now flip the letters around. F-L-O-W.

Eden had a stream flowing through it to bring water to the lush vegetation as well as Adam and Eve. The promised land was described as flowing with milk and honey.  Jesus said He was the living water and no one who came to Him would thirst.  In other words, to the obedient, God provides abundantly.

Instead of rebelling and heading off on our own where dangers lurk, we can choose to “go with the flow”, as the 1970’s adage states.  Not only can we float in the boundaries of God’s will, but we can be an example to others who either don’t realize that is an option or have considered it too stifling.

Jesus said in John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 

So, it’s our choice. Be a lure in the right way to a thirsty world by letting His love flow, or go off on our own and be lured by the wolf called self who crouches waiting to devour our souls.

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 It took all the effort Little Grass had, but he finally did it. The dirt that had surrounded him since birth no longer held him. He pushed through to the sunlight. Now he could grow tall. He could wave in the breeze with the other grasses and be drenched by the spring rains. He could feel the warmth of the sun’s rays cover him and stretch towards the sky. He grew and grew and grew. Life was great.

Then one day men came swinging large sharp things. Ouch! They whacked him off at the roots and bundled him up with the other grasses next to him.

“What is to happen to us?”

Another stalk of grass stacked under him sighed. “I have heard stories. This is the end, my friend. No more water will seep up into our veins because we have no roots. They will dry us out. We will become yellow and brittle.”

“No,” Little Grass trembled. “There has to be more. We must have a purpose.”

Another grass laying next to them laughed, but it was not a happy laugh. It sounded harsh and sad. “Our purpose is to be consumed. Either the animals will eat us so they can grow, our we will be thrown over coals and caught on fire so others can be warm.”

Yet another groaned. “We don’t matter. We’re worthless now. This is the end.”

“I don’t believe you. Any of you.” Little Grass straightened himself as long as he could. “We have more purpose than that. We have to. Why else would we have struggled so hard to push out of the darkness? We have found the sunlight and have bent towards it.”

“Yes, and all for nothing. The sun will now bare down on us and parch us until not a drop of moisture is left in our veins. We will become yellow and brittle. Dead. Why did we ever push out of the ground?”

Ropes were tied around the grasses and they were lifted high onto the back of animals.  Little Grass craned to see where they were going. “I had no idea the world was so big. All I could see was the tops of other grasses. Now I can see trees, and birds and mountains. Oh, this is wonderful.”

The other grasses moaned. “He just doesn’t get it, does he?”

Next, the grasses were spread out onto the dirt. The sun’s heat gleamed down onto them day after day. The little grass could feel all the water in his veins leaving him. He tried to keep it in, but the heat was stronger. He felt drained, thirsty. His stalk became stiff. No breeze flowed over him. He no longer could dance in the wind.  “But, at least this is making me stronger, less bendable. Maybe there is a reason. I have to believe that.”

The other grasses sighed. “He’ll learn. The worse is yet to come.”

A few days later, men came and gathered the grasses together again. Up onto back of another animal they went. Little Grass rode on the very top, and he was so happy to be on this adventure, but the other grasses grumbled and whined. They traveled over fields and across a stream of water. At night, the stars shone down on them as their animal carrier and the men rested. One star gleamed so much brighter than all the others.

“Oh, look at that.” Little Grass gasped. “I have never seen such a beautiful sight.”

The next day the bundle of grasses journeyed over a hill and down into a valley. Then, at dusk, the animal carrying the grasses stopped. People shuffled by, their sandals kicking up dirt. There were so many of them, and other animals, too. Where were they all going? A building up ahead had lanterns shining in its windows. They looked sort of like the stars.

“Are we going in there? Into that golden light?”

“No.” One of the other grasses sighed. “We will be in the stable. Soon the animals will eat us and we will die.”

The little piece of grass shook its stalk. “I don’t believe that. Something else will happen to us — something wonderful. We were made for another reason. I just know it.”

Then, a man gathered the grasses and spread them in a manager. “There. In the morning, the animals will have a feast.”

The grasses all whimpered and told each other goodbye. All except the little piece of grass.

In the middle of the night, strange noises woke the grasses. A donkey came in with a man and a woman. She groaned and huffed deep breaths. His voice was soothing and calm. Then, after a while, a third voice sounded—a soft babbling. It came from a very small human.

The woman took off her shawl, wrapped the wiggly baby in it and laid it on top of the Little Grass and the others. Immediately a warm glow spread through them. They became soft again, not stiff and scratchy.

“Oh, “Little Grass began to smile. “He has made us alive again.”

They wrapped their stalks around this child to keep him warm.

The grasses heard beautiful voices singing from above. Day and night, people came to look at the baby hugged by the grasses. They bowed and worshiped him as his parents stood by smiling.

“Praise be to God He found us this dry stable and these warm, soft grasses in which to lay his son, Jesus. “ The man gazed down at the grasses.

The people all echoed him. “Praise be to God for the stable and the grasses.”

A small amount of moisture left deep inside Little Grass formed into a drop, like a tear of joy.

“See, I knew we had a special purpose.”

The other grasses glowed with happiness and cuddled themselves around this child of God and worshipped him the only way they could — just by being there for His use.

For Scripture says… I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Romans 9:17

May The Lord bless you this Christmas and reveal His purpose for you in the upcoming year.                    

  Julie B Cosgrove

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You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18

While recovering from major surgery, my anesthesia brain felt a little too foggy to dive into a book. So I flipped through the TV channels. One station played an old Robert Redford and Jane Fonda movie, The Electric Horseman. If you have never seen it, Robert Redford plays a washed-up rodeo star named Sonny who now makes a living appearing at shows in a cowboy outfit that flashes and blinks with tiny lights. The sponsors want him to ride a well-known retired racehorse. The two celebrities are being used to advertise cereal instead of doing what they were “born to do” and once did.  Sonny decides to set the multi-million-dollar animal free to roam with wild horses in a remote canyon. Jane Fonda, the reporter, records the whole thing and begins to grasp the notion that our basic need to be free is a wonderful thing. Okay – very 1970’s!

Running free to do what you want sounds like a great life for any creature, right?

Wrong. This horse was always pampered, brushed daily, fed, and sheltered. It was treated very well. It didn’t have to worry as long as it did what it was told.

Before you grimace and say, “how stifling”, think about it. Now in the wilderness, this animal was ill-equipped and vulnerable to germs, weather, predators, and other stronger horses. Survival chances? Not that great. I am not sure Sonny did him a huge favor after all.

The God message? “Freedom” is overrated. True freedom is not what the world would have us believe. If everyone “did their own thing” there would be chaos and no laws.  Survival chances? Not that great.

We need boundaries to protect our freedoms. You’ve probably heard the old proverb, which stated that the obedient animal is free to roam inside the fence, but the defiant one is chained.

True freedom is granted when we choose to rely on God to care for us. He is a gentle, loving master who only has our best interests at heart. We are not required to do anything but respond in obedience. We can be free to move inside the fence of His ways. He guards the gate to make sure no danger enters the corral (John 10:9).

He feeds us, and we never hunger or thirst. We can head out to the pasture under his watchful eye and gallop, but it is also fenced for our protection.

People know to whom we belong. We wear his brand, called the cross, on our hearts. They can tell we have been disciplined and are not mustangs on the run.

If we don’t obey, and instead get a whiff of freedom in our nostrils, He might tug on our reins to steer us away from the open range for our own good. If we persist, He might allow us to jump the fence and race off on our own. But it doesn’t mean He stops keeping an eye on us.

And here is the marvelous thing. He is always waiting by the corral, beckoning us back to the barn. No whip on his belt. Only outstretched, nail-scarred hands standing by the open gate. He will tend to our wounds, comfort us, feed us, and shelter us in His warm mercy.

When it comes to the choice between God’s ranch and the open wilderness, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from the corral. How about you?

 

 

 

 

 


Go called me is to become a digital missionary with The Life Project. However, to continue to grow in this ministry, I need to become fully funded by partners who will pray and financially support me. Will you join my 20/20 Vision? I am seeking 20people who will pledge to provide  $20 a month.  You can learn more here.  Comment and I can send you more material to peruse so you know this cause is legitimate, why I am so passionate about it, and be assured your money will go to reach people around the world with the message of Hope in Jesus, one click at a time. Thank you for seriously praying about it.

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To The Letter

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

You probably know by now that I love words. So God uses them to get my attention, especially when I play word games with my friends as I sip my morning coffee. I figure it’s His way of telling me I ended my quiet time with Him too soon, like an echo that bounces back a few seconds later than you expect.

Today the letters were T-L-A-I-R …hmmm. I could spell trail or trial. The only difference in the two letters are the positions of the vowels, A and I.

That got my mind whirring.

When things are in a mess, I want the quickest way out. I don’t care for trials. Do you?

But we can turn our trial into God’s trail out by simply reversing the A and the I. How? We have to ask, do we think of us first (I) or God Almighty (A)?

As long as we put I before A, we will most likely wallow in the trial. Our focus will inward, in the wrong place.  When we study our navel, we lose perspective. Woe and pity can cloud our vision.  Perhaps anger at an injustice or unfairness cloaks our understanding. Doubt may creep in like a bug through a crack in the not-quite-level door jamb.

But when we turn to God for direction, eventually a trail will appear. A path to His lesson for us, which then leads to His mercy, His peace, and His grace. Recall the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness? They stayed in the trial until they learned to lean on God and His ways. Then He led them out into the place He promised.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6).

The next time we are lost in a fog of grief, a tangle of uncertainty, or a web of doubt, let us remember to reverse the letters. It might give us a different perspective on things.

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                                             Today, take time out to thank God for His provisions, guidance, grace, and mercy. 

 

 

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