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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.

 

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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

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...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.

 

 

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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.

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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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It seems a good many microwave meals have directions like this:

Why make a slit? I’m no scientist, but I know when heat is applied to frozen things, pressure builds. If there is no slit, you’ll probably hear a loud pop and find your dinner splattered all over the inside of the microwave.

The God lesson? Our habits can freeze us. We become hardened and unable to receive God’s lessons. So He adds a bit of heat to our lives. They’re called trials.

Even the Apostle Paul felt it. He wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth: We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. (1:8)

However, when the pressure begins to build, I often see Our Lord’s loving hand making a slight slit in the situation. A small reprieve. Perhaps it is a wonderfully painted sunset, or a little bird that lands on my fence. Maybe it is a hug from someone or a text telling me a friend felt lead to pray for me that day.

Did you notice what it says in the top of the picture? Ovens may vary. Isn’t it the same with us? I’ve heard it said God will never give us more than we can handle. These holy hiccups in the midst of all that is going on are precious signs that He is releasing some of the pressure in my life at just the right time. His hand is not always heavy on the potter’s wheel as He molds me into what He knows I can become.

Paul realized that as well. Two verses later he sates: “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers. …” (1:10-11a)

Lord, thank you for those slits in my life.

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I learned a godly truth from a bunch of cilantro. Sitting in my fridge for a week or so, I noticed some of the leaves had rotted before I got to use them in my food. My first instinct was to chuck the whole thing.  But I love cilantro, and it isn’t cheap. So I decided in order to keep the lush green ones from being contaminated, I’d pluck them away and sealed them in a storage baggie. Much less icky that snapping away the  slimy, brown ones and getting the gunk on my fingers.  Blech.

As I pulled the fragrant, dark leaves, I realized there were a lot more “good ones” than I originally thought.  That made me sigh with relief because I hadn’t wasted all my money after all.  Yet immediately my eyes had detected the bad ones and thought the worse.

It took a while to pluck all the tasty leaves away,  and I had to be more methodical and careful about doing it, but I felt better about ditching the rotten remnant once I had finished the task. A bulging baggie proved to me how much good remained. And my kitchen smelled amazing!

Of course this became a God-lesson for me.

Thank goodness our Heavenly Father doesn’t see only the bad in us and decide we need to be trashed. Instead, He sees the good in us as His Son points out, “These abide in me and I have made them worthy to save for Your use, Father. Do not cast them out.”

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful  (John 15:2).

Our precious, loving Lord carefully and methodically plucks away the sin tendencies in our lives to keep them from contaminating us, and uses the good He has found in us to do His will.  Then He bags and seals us in His Spirit to protect us and keep us fresh until He can use us.

Instead of concentrating on the bad, rotten and yucky in me which needs to be thrown away, perhaps I need to see how much good God sees in me through His Son, Jesus. He is viewing each leaf in my life to determine if it is worth keeping and using. There may be more good for Him to use than I originally thought. It makes me more thankful of the process, no matter how long it takes.

Thank you Lord, for taking the time to save what is good in me and not chunking me in the garbage because of the sin which has tainted my life.  Seal me through Your Holy Spirit. It is through and by Your Son, who has made me worthy to save, that I pray: use me to draw others to You. Amen.

 

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