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Archive for the ‘Devotional’ Category

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 

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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 

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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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Growing up, we had a tradition. Our Creche had a figurine of the baby Jesus that was separate from the manger in which it laid. Mom would hide it and we’d have to find it on Christmas morning. It was fun family game time. But later in life it’s meaning became clearer.

Seek and Find

How often have I had to seek the baby Jesus in the midst of this bustling holiday season? In fact, how often have I had to seek Jesus in moments of stress, anxiety, fear or hurt at anytime in my life? Praise Him that I eventually always find Him.

And how often has He sought me out, or given me neon clues as if to say, “Here I am.”

There have been times I knew Christ was in me, but I wondered how deeply others had to seek to find Him?

By seeking the baby Jesus first on Christmas morning before we ripped into presents or dumped our stockings to discover the goodies inside, Mom was subtly showing us the right priority.

Thanks, Mom, for the lesson. You don’t have to seek Him anymore. You are with Him in eternity.

I know one day I won’t have to seek Him anymore in my daily life either. I’ll be with you, bowing before the eternal throne crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

 

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I have become like broken pottery. Psalm 31:12

The past fifteen months, a huge hammer has repeatedly smashed my world. I once carried my life in a beautiful bowl. A sudden job loss, poor health, and other issues have left what once felt solid in scattered, tiny shards. I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces.

Have you been there? Do I see you nodding?

Contemplating my situation, especially over the past year , I noticed a cross I have hanging next to my fireplace. I bought it years ago at a church festival…long before I turned my widowhood apartment into shades of turquoise. Most of it’s life it hung outside on a patio. But it matched my sofa now, so…

Who knew God would use it to show me He loves me?

It is a mosaic, made of three or four different china or pottery items that have been smashed into pieces. The artist gathered them together, placed them carefully in the cross mold, and then poured in the plaster of Paris to adhere them into a beautiful design.

What someone else might have swept up and dumped as useless trash, she saw as beauty. She could envision the end product. She arranged the pieces just so, and created something new, and stronger, and with new purpose.

I know I am not the first person to make this analogy. But it reminds me of what Jesus said to his disciples after everyone on the mount had been fed with the fishes and loaves.  “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12).

With Christ as my mold, the pieces of my life have been transformed into something new. He knew they’d come together in a wonderful way.  But first, they had to be broken to be repurposed. His Spirit has plastered these experiences together and made me stronger than before.

Thank you, Lord that You see the potential in each experience and that You will use it to Your glory and my benefit. Nothing is wasted. As You gathered the pieces of what I once had and began to mold them into my future,  I have drawn nearer to you, wrestled with my pride, and learned to lean on the generosity of others. Most of all, I know anew that You are always with me. Amen.

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Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

You have probably received tons of emails. Today is Gifting Tuesday, when many non profits get matching donations. If you give $10 they will get $20.  It seems everyone is clamoring for your wallet today.

Did you know that with God everyday is doubled giving day? Think about it. When I reach out beyond myself to give of my time, talent or treasure to another person, then it also blesses me.

  • I no longer concentrate on, and magnify, my own issues.
  • I feel a sense of purposefulness
  • I develop a servitude attitude that is closer to the way God wishes me to behave
  • I think I make Abba smile, and that makes me smile.

We all like to receive gratitude for our giving. That in itself is a gift. But therein lies the trap. Do we give to feel good about ourselves? Do we desire the admiration, the acknowledgement, the glory? (Notice each bullet point above starts with “I”.)

What happens when we don’t get the thanks we deserve for our generosity?

Jesus warned of this pitfall. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3).

The true blessing that comes from sacrificial giving, the gift we receive in return, is a humble and contrite heart. When we realize it all comes from and belongs to God anyway, perhaps we are less likely to act like two-year-olds grasping our treasures with a pout. Mine. Or less like the three-year-old who constantly calls out, “Look at me.”

The double gift is in the giving. Not because some anonymous donor will match it, but because our Father in Heaven will double bless it– if it is given with the right attitude of expecting little or nothing in return. The return blessing may not come immediately, or in this lifetime.

But if you think about it a bit deeper, you have already been given the gift. It is salvation through grace and mercy.  What more can you expect in return? So, go. Give it away.

 


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 

 

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Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:8

I’ve watched way too much TV while laid up with health issues. I admit it. One thing I have noticed, though, is the trend to make foods deceptive.  Cauliflower cooked to resemble mashed potatoes or rice. Pasta from zucchini. Cream soups made healthy to fool the family into eating right because it tastes good. Even prepared diet foods that let you eat chocolate cake and still lose the pounds.

What’s wrong with that? Initially I was sucked in. I can eat the foods that were on my “no-no” list, as long as they are altered. Marie Antoinette was right after all. “Let them eat cake!”

The problem, as I see it, is that habits are not really being changed. People are not eating more healthy but stealth-y.

I see it in churches as well. Get ’em in the door anyway you can and then lay on the Gospel. But not to thick. Let them ease into it. Be tolerant. Let them wallow in sin and accept them. Don’t judge.

Like false mashed potatoes, it looks and tastes good. Agreed, people want to eat what they want to eat and believe what they want to believe.  I admit, there is truth in that evangelistic method. Jesus met people in their messes. We should as well.

But he pulled no punches when it came to doling out the truth. As a wise pastor I know one told me, “We need to love them enough as they are to help them change into who God calls them to be.”

While we have all fallen short of the glory of God and sinned (Romans 3:23) and we should examine the plank in our own eyes before we point out the speck in our neighbor’s (Matthew 7:3-5), if we wash down the message of salvation too much, we lose the reason for needing a Savior in the first place. That, my friends, to me is a DANGER:THIN ICE sign.

Perhaps it is best if we don’t try to fool them into eating mashed potatoes that is something else, and claim it is for their own good. Maybe we should be honest about “mashed potatoes’ nutritional value”  in the first place. Then offer them the Bread of Life.

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