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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today?’

for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

Sometimes, I have doubts. I know I am not supposed to, but I’ve always been one who judged my efforts by tangible results. It’s why I  love to clean–my  house, the church altar, the car. I immediately see the fruits of my labor and it feels good.

As a digital missionary who writes and edits for The Life Project,but not yet fully funded to do the work, my efforts are not always as visible. I become frustrated and wonder if they will tell me they can’t use me anymore because I can’t pay my way, which would break my heart.

Or as an author who struggles to get anyone to read or review her novels, even if those who do usually award them 4-5 stars. (I can picture other writer and authors nodding. We all struggle with it.)

Sometimes, I just wonder…am I even making a difference? Why put out the effort? Am I fooling myself? Should I just hang this all up?

God quietly responded this past week. “You are doing fine, daughter. Keep going.” How?

  • My Life Project team sent me gifts as a thank you for my service and a nice note telling me how vital I am to the ministry.
  • One of my articles saved a Satanist, helped another woman in an abusive relationship, and has now been translated into French and picked up by two other missionary publications, reaching thousands more than most of the other articles.
  • A friend told me one devotional I wrote was exactly what she needed to hear that day.
  • Another devo converted a man in prison, and he has made copies for others to read.

I say this not to puff up my ego, but to show that if we ask, God will provide proof that we are in His will, even if we can’t see it. It was a confirmation that He not only has a purpose for me but loves me enough to show me, the one exhibiting a “ye of little faith” moment.

But then, as if to drive home the point, God intervened again.

I set a pot of eggs to boil on the stove, then gathered my trash, hung it to my walker, and shuffled it across the way to the apartment dumpster. When I came back inside, the place smelled weird and my cat kept sneezing. I turned the corner to see flames leaping on top of my stove.

I’d placed a pair of kitchen shears too close to the burner. The toxic odor of burning plastic quickly filled my nostrils and made my eyes water. Terrified, I prayed a split second prayer. What do I do?

My logical side kicked in. I put out the fire, clicked on the stove vent, and opened the patio door and windows to air the place out. Soon both my cat and I began to breathe better. And I’d caught it in time, so the fire alarm didn’t blare in our ears.

So why do I contribute this to God answering me? Feeling fairly good for once, I’d thought about also dragging my walker up to the front of my large complex to get my mail, but then got a strong message, “Um, no. Don’t do that. Go back and get  your car keys. That is a too much of a trek in your condition.”

Had I ignored that thought and gone anyway, the whole kitchen might have caught fire, the fire alarm blare, and who knows what would have happened to my cat, which is apartment bound, as he inhaled all of those fumes.

Some might say it was my subconscious or the “universe” that made me change my mind. To me, God’s Holy Spirit did, and in the process, confirmed three more things. First, He is always watching over me. Second, He is ready to guide me. Third, He cares about things like me not losing my eight-year-old cat after having to put down my nineteen-year-old one two weeks ago.

Recently, I found a holy pat on the back through little things that happened one right after the other. Where will you find God today? Why not ask Him to reveal Himself and confirm His love and purpose for you?

 

 

 

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I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 1 John 2:12

Ever since I moved into my apartment, anything that has been sitting in my freezer for more than a day reeks of garlic. I scrubbed the walls and shelves with various organic cleansers, tried lemon juice…and even so not so organic ones. Chemicals can’t survive in frost, right? Don’t burst my bubble. I never took chemistry.

Finally I discovered the culprit. The ice maker tub. The plastic container the ice dispenser decides to chunk a dozen or so cubes into at odd hours, like two a.m. Loud enough to startle you from a nice dream. Why someone had something garlicky in there is beyond me.

So I scrubbed it. Still smelled. I ran really hot water over it and added a touch of baking soda in it to let it soak for several hours. Nope. Last resort, I sequestered it to my patio for the three hot, Texas summer days until the trash truck came. That way I didn’t have to whiff it.

Come trash day I retrieved it and guess what? No more odor. I guess the sunshine warmed it enough to release the smell and then the breeze whisked it away. How about that?

Back in the freezer it went and now my freshly made ice cubes hold no garlicky smell. Nor do my other frozen foods. Ahhhh.

Now before you all send me recipes for how to safely get odors out of plastic, let me tell you why I even mention this.

I occurred to me that we humans need airing out, too…sometimes. I am not talking about whether your antiperspirant works or not. I mean the inward things. Residual stuff in our past can linger on our soul. Occasionally a whiff of them surfaces and catches our attention, just enough to remind us of our failures, mistakes, past sins, or the time we didn’t have the gumption to say “I’m sorry.”

We can scrub ourselves clean by doing good deeds or promising to be a better person, but the offense still lingers. Remedies don’t work. Fragrant offerings like being super kind to strangers, and even you relatives, may cover it up for a while…. but it doesn’t eradicate the stench. It’s like a faint odor that never quite goes away no matter how hard we try to cover it up.

To really get rid of the stink in our lives we need to air it out in the presence of the Son. Let the breeze of mercy flow over us long enough to where we believe anew that He really can forgive us and still loves us, in spite of our messes.

Exposed to the rays of His grace, what was offensive no longer has a lingering aroma in our lives. We can be of full use again. A fresh start.

Are there unresolved issues that hover over you in the middle of the night? Time to air them out, folks. Take them to the Son and let Him shine on it. Allow Him the time to remove that hurt or resentment or guilt that you are sure everyone else can smell as well. Then thank Him for forgiving you and make sure you take the final step…forgive yourself.

No one need to wait for trash day, because as the ol’ bumper sticker saying goes “God Don’t Make Junk.” You are still of use.

 

 

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“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

I have this in a frame over my desk…

But recently, I read a devotional that reminded me we have a gentleman God who knocks and asks to enter into our lives, our souls, and our thoughts. The writer asked if our daily Bible time had become bone dry? Were we praying for the Holy Spirit to join us and reveal the meaning to us?

I thought about how many times I yawn as I sip my coffee, crack open my Bible, find the passage of the day, read it, and then check it off my to-do list. My feelings would be crushed if I knew readers treated a book I wrote in this manner.

When did I lose the idea that this is a love story?

I truly believe “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16)  I have known times in my life a passage has pierced my heart with the truth of it’s message as if God reached down and typed it onto the page.

Perhaps you have as well.

We are blessed in the western world to have the Bible in so many places and in so many translations. It is on my coffee table, on my bookshelf, in an app on my phone, and bookmarked on my computer. Framed verses scatter the walls of my apartment. Some are taped to my desktop monitor and secured with a magnet on my fridge.

I am surrounded by the Word, hemmed in, armored. Do I take that for granted sometimes? I confess. Yes, I do.

Forgive me, Lord. Speak to me anew. Enter in…the door is open.

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But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.  Ephesians 5:13

At a women’s retreat about a year ago I won the door prize of an African violet. It bloomed for a while, then stopped. For months it kept putting out leaves but it never bloomed again. I figured maybe it was out of season. But this spring, though it still thrived, was pushing out new leaves…no blooms.

So I went on line and asked, “Why won’t my African Violet bloom?” The top three articles said the same thing– it needs more light. Oh. Okay.  I opened my blind slats a bit more. Within in a few weeks tiny buds appeared.

I realized, that’s me. I can read the Bible, I can pray, I can attend church. I will thrive and continue to grow, but will I blossom? No. Not unless I expose myself to His light regularly, daily.

Wait, you may say. Doesn’t all of that you said accomplish the purpose? Yes, if I don’t filter it out. If I don’t review my grocery list while I am reading about wheat in the Bible, or if my mind doesn’t wander when I pray, or if I concentrate less on the pew in front of me — the man with a cough, the wiggly child, or the woman whose clothes tag is dangling on the outside of her blouse– and more on worship.

We can be exposed to God and yet not bask in His light. We may think enough filters in, and yet we are not blooming the way we should. His power lies dormant inside of us, waiting to burst forth because something is in the way of the rays. Life-stress, anger, jealousy, an unforgiving attitude.

In order to reflect the Son, we need Him shining in our lives daily, unhindered by the blinds of world. If you are not blooming, maybe it is time you opened the blind slats a bit more. You may find what you really need is more exposure in order to bask more in His warm love and soak in His grace. Figure out what is blocking the light and how to adjust your focus. Soon, people will notice a difference in your face and attitude. You will be blossoming.

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One hour. 60 minutes. One 24th of a day. We cherish it when it comes to sleep time. We become anxious if we have to wait that long. And often we waste it on things like TV, social media…even worry as we pace the bedroom floor in the moonlight.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:26

Jesus asked the question. How do we answer? If worrying doesn’t consume your time, substitute another phrase – by being proud,  by being angry, by being revengeful, unforgiving, caught up in a video game, vegged out on Netflix…yep, I am stepping on my toes, too.

Yes, we all need down time, but during that time can we spare an hour of talking, reading and listening time with our Lord?

Tonight, Jesus will face his fate with blood sweat and tears. He will kneel face down in the dirt among the scraggly olive trees and cry out to His Father. And His disciples? Snoozing. He’d asked them to stay awake and pray for one hour.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter (Matthew 24:6).

They didn’t, and when the soldiers came, they fled. They didn’t have the strength to stand and stay because they hadn’t been bolstered by God-time.

Are we any different?

Will you carve out an hour today, or tomorrow on Good Friday, to reflect (and thankfully praise God) over what Jesus did for you?

 

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Have you ever had a spiritual high, only then to slide into the valley at lightening speed?  You  come home from a fabulous spirit-filled retreat and discover the water heater burst and flooded the house, or the entire family contracts the stomach virus, or you get an IRS audit notice in the mail. Why Lord? Couldn’t You have let me feel great for just a while longer?

Jesus understands. The same thing happened to Him:

 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness… (Mark 1:9-12)

At once…bam. Why?

Perhaps because our faith is forged in trials.

Perhaps so His human pride wouldn’t swell.

Perhaps because God knows we cannot exist on emotional highs.

If there were not valleys, would we appreciate the mountain tops? Jesus never told us becoming a believer meant an easy road where the potholes would vanish. Far from it.

What comforts me is the last part of Mark 1:13…

and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Emphasis mine).

What have I learned?

First, God prepared Jesus. He gave Him the spiritual high, the encouragement, and the faith to head into the wilderness, knowing it was coming. He gave Him His purpose- You are My Son, with you I am well pleased. 

Second, God never left Him. He sent angels to minister to Him.

Because of His experience on earth as a human, Jesus understands the slippery slope off the mountain into the valley. He gets the fact that life is tough. He knows that evil can chip away  our armor of faith.

But He is God, too. He knows when those “Oops” are going to come for us. He will prepare us for them, and guide us through them. Even in the wilderness, we can find His blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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