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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

 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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This week, after the horrendous massacre in Dallas involving twelve policemen and two citizens, close on the heels of the  massive bloodshed in the nightclub Pulse in Orlando, and with all the riots in major cities across our nation, one has to wonder where is God in all of this?

On His throne, probably with tears on His cheeks. He is also in the many good people who have rallied to pray, hug and help the victims’ families and friends.  As believer, we are called to be the light in the darkness, and His light shines the brightest when things are extremely dark.  Fred Rogers, of Mr. Roger’s fame, said his mother always told him to look for he helpers in times of tragedies–evidence of God at work.

In an effort to squelch any prejudice between the Jews and the Gentiles, Paul tells the Ephesians –

 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… (2:13-14)

God is calling us to destroy the barrier of hatred and prejudice that is dividing our nation. His command to us is to love Him and then to, by His Holy Spirit’s power, love our neighbors. This is the time for Christians to stand firm, stand strong, and stand united in love. Even if we do not approve of someone’s lifestyle, it is no reason not to minister to them in love. Jesus did to the woman at the well, to tax collectors and to the outcast. He even loved His enemies.

pray for our nationLet us pray away the barriers. Join many other Christians who are stopping each day at 8:00 p.m. CDT to pray for one minute for our people, our nation and for peace. I have set the alarm on my cell phone daily to remind me to stop, drop and pray.

Will you do the same?

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Many of you who read my blog are aware I have cats. One is getting up in years – he is edging into his 14th birthday in December. So, he isn’t as spry as he once was.IMG_20131202_092238_869

Some evenings, I like to veg out on a good Netflix mystery.  I sit on my couch, legs stretched to the ottoman. My old kitty can hop up onto the ottoman with effort, but the leap to the couch is more and more beyond his capability. So, smart cat that he is, he has discovered he can use my outstretched legs as a bridge to walk across to my lap.

Jesus died on the cross to bridge the gap between us and God. We now have access to our Father’s lap through our Lord and Savior’s sacrifice. But we must make the walk, right? We must first take the hop of faith by confessing our sins. Then over Jesus’ stretched out arms on the cross, we can come into the Holy presence of our Almighty God. At times it may seem quite an effort, but that’s okay. Christ is more than willing to be the conduit that lead us to the throne of grace if we will only make the effort to come to Him first.

For my cat, that first leap onto the ottoman is the hardest part of the journey, but he knows he wants to feel secure and loved in my lap, so it is worth it to him. And when the time comes he is no longer able to hop to the ottoman, my hands will be there to lift him up when he comes to me and meows..

I am no different. I want to feel secured and loved in my Father’s presence. Each time I sin, I choose to make that leap of faith in order to ask Christ to be my bridge. Not saying I am as smart as my cat, but I know I am incapable of doing it on my own. I also know I can call on Jesus. He will always be there to lift me up and encourage me to cross over into my Father’s lap. He will do the same for you.

 

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Next Sunday begins the journey through the gates.

ID-100154628 With praises and loud voices we wave palm branches to welcome Jesus into the gates of Jerusalem.

But, within a few days, we watch as his ministry on earth appears to crumble. Plots against him escalate. He and his disciples hide out in an upper room to celebrate the Passover, then pass through the city gates to a mount in a secluded olive grove.

One of them betrays Him,and the rest scatter, denying that they know Him in fear of meeting the same fate as He is to meet as he is dragged through the gates into the courts. The crowds choose a well-known criminal to pardon instread of Jesus and after much flogging and mocking,

He carries his cross through the streets, pass the main city gates and unto a hill. There he is nailed tothe beams of wood, and suffers unto death.

But the story doesn’t end. Unbeknowst to the world, Jesus enters the gates of Hell to conquer the power of Satan — sin and death  — once and for all. He took our sins upon the cross,carried them to Hell, and then built the bridge for us to Heaven.

Then rejoice! The stone is rolled away and He is risen. Now the gates of Heaven are open wide, as Don McClean sung in his wonderful Easter song, as seen through Peter’s eyes, “He’s Alive”.

What gates are in your life right now? Are they opened to Jesus entering through them, or have you closed them, slapped on a heavy lock and stepped away? We face all kinds of gates. Joyful ones like entering into marriage, or going off to college, or having a baby, and maybe entering your financially secure retirement years- is there such a thing now?  Maybe the gates are sorrowful- the last Hospice days of a loved one, the unexpected diagnosis from your doctor, the papers served to tell you your spouse wants to end the marriage. Maybe the are gates of unknown. A job change, moving to a new city, leaving home, entering the mission field abroad.

There is one common denominator in all these scenarios, and the upcoming Holy Week from Palm Sunday through Easter shows that. Whatever the gate is – Jesus is there. Let Him walk through it with you. Gates have no power over Him. So  give thanks and praise His name. Then hold His hand and enter in.


Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Psalm 24:7

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100 :4

 

 

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John stands knee-deep in the river, day after day. He feels this inner fervency to draw people to repent. So much so that he lives off the land and sleeps under the stars. Relentlessly, he cries out, taking no notice of how he is received.  Maybe, just maybe a few will respond.

Then, one day, the Son of BaptismOfJesusByJohn-787653God,  for whom he has been preparing others to receive, arrives and wants to be baptized as well. John says, “Uh, no. You are the one who should be doing this to me. I am not worthy to untie your sandals.”

But Jesus tells him this is what must be done, and there is purpose in it.   I can picture him as he looked into John’s eyes. I almost hear him say, “Trust me on this. You have to do this. You’ll see why in a minute.”

As he is baptized,  the Holy Spirit comes to bolster Jesus through the next three years of grueling ministry.  God anoints Him for the task. He confirms that Jesus is His Son.

Jesus’ baptism has another purpose as well. It’s is also a foreshadowing of Jesus passing that same Holy Spirit on to each believer who is baptized in His name and receives Him into their lives.  While John baptized for repentance of sins, Jesus takes that and turns it into so much more. John’s baptisms was temporary and temporal.  Jesus’s obedience turned it into a divine and eternal action of our loving and willing-to-forgive Father in Heaven.

Have you ever felt inadequate for a ministry God has called you to do?  Then you can relate to John. But just as Jesus told John that what he was asking him to do was purposeful and necessary, so He tells you. Just do it, trust and then watch what happens. Christ can take your simple acts of obedient talent and manifest Himself into them so they become  significantly more than you ever imagined.. He did it with water jugs at a wedding, with a boy’s meal of fish and bread, and with two pieces of wood tied to make a cross bar in which to punish thieves and murderers.

So, do what Christ is calling you to do, no matter how insignificant it makes you feel. Obey His command. Perhaps the skies won’t open up and an illuminated dove descend. But God will nod and say, “This is my child, with whom I am well pleased.”

 

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Our church uses a power point display on the walls. We also have a processional, which means we sing as the ministers and helpers in the service come up the aisle. Kids from the congregation carry a wooden cross and liquid wax torches, symbolizing Jesus as the Light of the World.

When the torch bearers pass by the projectors, the light-beam catches the torches. They cast a shadow across the lower corner of the illuminated screen on the wall. But, what is so cool is that the warmth emitting from the torches can suddenly be seen as wispy shadows, almost translucent,  billowing up over the words to the hymn.

Zechariah, the father of John the Baptizer, told his infant boy this:

 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
  for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
  in the forgiveness of their sins,
 because of the tender mercy of our God,
  whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
  to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:76-79 ESV)

dreamstimefree_91584We are supposed to reflect Jesus as we walk this earth. We carry His torch. If Christ shines His light in our path, will other people, who sit in darkness, see the wispy shadow of the Holy Spirit emitting from our souls like a Godly warmth? Or will they only see the shadow of death because of  our unconfessed sins and worldly week-day ways?

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