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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Cosgrove’

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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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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I love it when other people let me know they found God in their day.

This is from Debbie Haney, who is an excellent amateur photographer, so God used this to catch her eye.

She sat down to breakfast and saw the ceiling fan reflected in her spoon.

It reminded her that God is with her and she should thank Him for His blessings. The “cross” gives her hope.

 

Where will you find God in your day?

He knows your interests, faves, talents, and desires. He will use them to get your attention. Just adjust your faith-eyes to see them.

Six years ago, I told Him if I was going to start this blog, as I felt He instructed, He had to be faithful to show me blatant evidence I could share with others. I can be a bit dense and unfocused at times.

He has been faithful to do so.  I believe He will for you as well, just as He did for Debbie.

 

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18

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