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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today?’

“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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Growing up, we had a tradition. Our Creche had a figurine of the baby Jesus that was separate from the manger in which it laid. Mom would hide it and we’d have to find it on Christmas morning. It was fun family game time. But later in life it’s meaning became clearer.

Seek and Find

How often have I had to seek the baby Jesus in the midst of this bustling holiday season? In fact, how often have I had to seek Jesus in moments of stress, anxiety, fear or hurt at anytime in my life? Praise Him that I eventually always find Him.

And how often has He sought me out, or given me neon clues as if to say, “Here I am.”

There have been times I knew Christ was in me, but I wondered how deeply others had to seek to find Him?

By seeking the baby Jesus first on Christmas morning before we ripped into presents or dumped our stockings to discover the goodies inside, Mom was subtly showing us the right priority.

Thanks, Mom, for the lesson. You don’t have to seek Him anymore. You are with Him in eternity.

I know one day I won’t have to seek Him anymore in my daily life either. I’ll be with you, bowing before the eternal throne crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

 

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 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved..John 10:9

I live in a gated community. In reality, it is little more than a false sense of security. I have lived here four years, and the code has never changed. Every pizza and package delivery knows it. The tenants who move in and out every six months to a year know it.  But even if the manager was more diligent in changing the code, it wouldn’t really matter.

The same gate that lets a car in also lets a car out. In this warren of residencies, one usually only has to wait a few minutes before another car appears, wishing to exit. No code needed. Slip right on through as they drive out. To avoid lawsuits, I imagine, the gates open and close very slowly, and if they detect a car in the path, they will stop and reopen. This allows at least two or three cars to zip through at a time.

What we need is a guard 24/7 to monitor who passes in and out. But that would be too pricey.

Why am I telling you all this? We each put up barriers and boundaries to keep us safe in our personal space. Rules, internal alarms, habits. However, there is also a gate. A gate you assume will stay closed during the times you want to stay safe, but in reality, can allow lots of things to seep in. That whisper that tells you this one time will be okay. You won’t really be breaking the rules. You are being bold, adventurous, trying something new. That new idea which makes you think perhaps your boundaries have been too rigid and unfair. An interpretation of Scripture that opens your eyes to a more broad understanding, adding a new lane along the road to salvation.

Jesus told His first-century listeners that He was the gate for the sheep. The people who heard His words understood the analogy. Shepherds would lead their sheep from pastures into a communal enclosed area at night. This was in order to watch over them and protect them from predators and poachers. The shepherds then laid down in the gap and guarded the entrance. Nothing came in or out without their permission.

The Holy Spirit is our mind’s gate. The gate code is the Word of God. Whenever something rattles our thoughts, we should ask, does it jibe with what I know to be Truth? Even so, if we rely solely on our own understanding, it can be a false security. Many people use the gate code, and not always for good purposes.

We need the Gatekeeper, 24/7. Don’tworry, He already paid the price.

 


Besides writing this  blog, I  have a digital ministry. The internet is a vast mission field. At Campus Crusades of Canada’s The Life Project, 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.

But as with any missionary organization, we are funded solely through the donations of ministry partners. Find out more about my work as a writer and editor at  http://www.juliebcosgrove.com/missionary_support.html

 

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