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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Cosgrove’

thanks to Peggy Sue Thompson for this photo

A friend posted this on Facebook and stated if it had been her, she’d have cut the tree down since so much of it was missing.   As I looked at that majestic tree the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “I have done this for many whom others have seen as a lost cause.”

I don’t know what happened to gouge out this tree.  But some kind soul saved it by pushing these stones inside the hollow trunk. It was a purposeful act, not a freak of nature.

Thanks to the stones stacked inside, the vulnerable core of the tree was protected from varmints, bugs, and weather. The stones strengthened it and encouraged it to grow straight and tall instead of toppling over. They, by their very nature, add substance and sturdiness to the trunk.

What a testimony of a Christ-filled life!

What are the stones in our lives? Are they our trials, lessons learned, or spiritual nudges when faced with a decision? With the Rock of Christ living in us, stone by stone He is building a testimony.  Each rock is stacked just so in order for us to keep standing, keep growing and keep digging our roots deeper into the faith. As a result, we are able to withstand what otherwise might topple us.

Jesus said in Luke 19:40, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  For me, these stones cried out today telling of the amazing work Christ can do in people we may consider lost causes.  They also tell of the work He continues to do in me.  What happens to me through this process is a purposeful act, not a freak of nature. 

May He continue to use whatever He needs in order to strengthen me from within. I pray the same for you.

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A dear author friend of mine, DiAne Gates, has an eye for beauty that she readily captures in her photographs and her sketches.  She paints great word pictures in her stories, too.

She recently posted this picture of morning glories on Facebook. I can see why they call them glories. They are absolutely gorgeous. Look at how their centers reflect the light. It draws you in, right?

Morning glories are a vine that can tolerate wet rainy seasons or drought conditions. But they need a pole, fence, tree trunk, or something else sturdy to support their growth. Otherwise, they won’t flourish. When darkness blankets the earth, they shut tight. But come sunrise, they greet the new day by opening wide and soaking in the rays.

Describes Christians pretty well, too. Doesn’t it? Or it should.

We can tolerate any condition as long as we can cling to something sturdy, Jesus. He is the main vine, and we branch off of His strength. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”  (John 15:5).

We repel darkness of this world and shut it out, but we are attracted to the Light of Son, Jesus Christ, which in turn attracts others to us, “…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

May we all be morning glories, because His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23).  May each of us today, and every day, turn to the Son the very first thing and give Him the glory as He shines into the center of our hearts, minds, and souls.  And, as we go about our day, may the Light of Christ deep inside us attract others to Him through our actions and conversations.

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So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  1 Corinthians 3:7

Back in March, I wrote a devotional about my sad, scrawny little plant I just could not throw out.  (See Barely Thriving). I’m pleased to announce the plant has grown a new, beautiful, dark green, healthy leaf! (It’s the one in the center.)

For the past few weeks, I have been watching it daily with anticipation.  Every morning I’d curl up on my couch, hugging my coffee cup, and determine how much it had “grown” overnight. It started as a small “bump” and when I saw it I caught my breath in my throat. Could it be? After almost a year, a new leaf?

Yes! Within another few days, it was confirmed. Then the stalk began to get longer and longer. Soon, a tightly-wound leaf began to stretch from the tip of the stem and slowly unfurl. It only took a few days before the newly-opened light green leaf darkened as the sun shined on it, spurring the chlorophyll to flow.

If I can root (no pun intended) for a little leaf growing, how much more does God get excited to see growth in me?  Understand that I mean spiritual growth, not my waistline and hips. I can almost envision Him smiling and encouraging me. It made me realize anew that any growth is celebrated. It means progress, no matter how slow.

That thought led to another. How impatient am I in watching for growth in others? Do I become frustrated with them, assuming they are on my timetable and are not putting out the effort they should in order to become more Christ-like? Do I scoff and judge their faith walk? Or do I celebrate whatever tiny revelation I detect in their thoughts or behavior?

If I can celebrate a new leaf growing on a scrawny plant, how much more should I acknowledge the work God is doing in those I know…and in me as well?

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In Bible study on the Book of Exodus, our lecturer said the Ark of the Covenant was a “portable Eden”. It was where God chose to dwell among His people on earth.  Placed in the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle, God recreated Eden in a golden box so He could travel with His believers and be in covenant with them.  Once the temple in Jerusalem was built, God dwelled there, in the midst of the land He’d promised them. It became “Eden.”

That sent a flutter through my chest. Why? Paul told the Corinthians that their bodies were the temple since the one in Jerusalem had been destroyed. It has never been rebuilt, by the way. Not that it needs to be because God now dwells in the hearts of believers. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1Corinthains 3:16).

That makes you and me portable Edens!

In Eden, there was love, goodness, peace, calmness, and serenity.  Mankind freely communed with God. They shared time and space. Sin was an outsider.

Eden is not a lost world. It still exists. The peace that passes all understanding still resides there like a gorgeous flower that is always in bloom. Faith, trust, and compassion flourish in lush fullness. This wondrous place now travels with us wherever we go in this un-Eden-like world. It is our “go to” spot whenever we need it. Better than comfy pants or chocolate.

So, if this portable Eden is always with us, and thus God is, why are we not more serene and content?  Why aren’t our lives centered more in Christ?

And…If our hearts contain that marvelous, fruitful place called paradise, why do we try to bring the seeds of worry, strife, anger, and bitterness through the garden gate? Those need to stay outside. We don’t need to haul them inside to dwell where only God should.

Where can we find God today? He is in Eden, a heartbeat away.

 

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At the suggestion of a friend, I got a battery back up for my smartphone. The older my phone gets (yes, it is paid for) the more quickly the battery runs down. I know the feeling!

Recently, the phone needed charging while I was not at home so I couldn’t use the cord.  I had carried the battery with me. As I plugged the phone into the battery, it occurred to me that I am like that. Sometimes I need recharging. Don’t you?

At any time, we can plug into our source of life, which is God. But sometimes, we don’t feel we are close to the cord. It may be stress, hurt, pain, or a sense of being overwhelmed. That is when we need someone else to pray for us and boost our energy. I honestly think God puts people in our lives for just that purpose.

Interceding for each other is so very important. Being able to honestly discuss what we are going through and where we are in our walk is vital. We all need one or two prayer warriors to plug into, with whom we can be totally vulnerable, knowing that they will not judge or chide us. Instead, they will give godly wisdom and prayer support. We know they are filled with power because they have been in the Word, have spent time with God, and have allowed His Spirit to reign in their lives. Life has not depleted their resources. In other words, because they have been plugged in and are fully powered at the moment, they can boost us in our weakened state.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

There will come a time when we will be the battery saver to someone else. Faith in community works that way. Sure, bearing another’s burden may drain us a bit, but we can always be renewed by plugging into the Source on a regular basis.

And here is what convicted me the most. I should always have power stored up in me  — the same way I try to keep my battery charger ready. If I don’t, then when I run low, I will be drained of energy and in search of something to energize me. If I haven’t brought my battery saver as a backup, or have not plugged my phone in for a while, it dies. It is the same with my soul. I need to plug into God through prayer and His Word often or I’ll become depleted. I’ll either seek a temporary fix such as caffeine, chocolate or comfort carbs, or I will lean on someone else over and over again to boost me, draining them.

It is wise to consistently plug ourselves into God’s power.  We all need a holy battery saver (or should I say Savior) for those dark times when the power of our own strength seems to go out. And doesn’t it always seem that power flickers the most during a storm?

Is your battery fully charged and ready?

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When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” Luke 5:4-6

Our pastor preached on this account in Luke recently, talking mostly to the men about following their own agenda instead of God’s. But it “got me to thinking”, as we say down here in Texas.

What would Peter’s wife’s reaction have been? Did she wonder where in the world was her husband? Or did she learn from the other fishermen’s wives that they had gone back out in the waters because “that preacher” told them to do it? Did she hitch her hands on her hips and grouse?  Or maybe roll her eyes and stomp off mumbling, “Now supper will grow cold, and he promised he’d help me sweep the floor. Doesn’t he realize my mother is ill and can’t help me like she once did?”

Or did she smile and trust in this Jesus her husband spoke of with such passion.  Did his enthusiasm and new-found faith rub off on her? Did she wait on the shore, peering into the distance over the waves, excited about what might happen next?

Scholars say the men caught enough that day to provide income for their families for three years…the same amount of time they would be Jesus’ disciples during His earthly ministry. Did she wait to see the blessings of Peter’s obedience? Did she dance with joy when they had to gather other boats to bring in the biggest haul anyone had ever caught in that Sea of Galilee? Or had she gone back home, closed the door, and pouted?

 

Let’s take this beyond a husband and wife scenario:

How do you react when others don’t exactly do things the way you think they should?

How about when they follow a godly directive and become a success in what they set out to achieve? Are you happy for them, or does jealousy creep in?

Or do you wonder how come life is so tough for you right now and so easy for others? That their life seems abundant and “overflowing with fish” when you have been casting your nets until your arms are rubbery and not seeing results. Could it be that they were more quick to obey God’s commands no matter how hard or weird or unrealistic they were?

Do you dance with joy at their blessings or stomp away while mumbling?

Will you have faith to believe your day of abundance will come or think maybe God blesses others more than you? Perhaps, God is using circumstances in your life to prepare your nets for the right catch that hasn’t swum in your direction yet.

Do you have the faith and patience to wait, believing that a huge school of fish will veer near to your boat someday? And if it never happens, will you trust God to provide enough of a catch each day as you toil?

When it comes to reeling in what God wants us to catch, how many of us are willing to go out and try one more time…even though we have done it ten-hundred times without success?

How many opportunities have swum by us when we’ve already dragged our boats to shore?

Just some questions I pondered on the drive home from church…

 

 

 

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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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