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Posts Tagged ‘Where did you find God today’

Happy Boxing Day!  Traditionally, the day after Christmas was when the lord of the manor  let his staff have the day off, and  gave them year-end presents to share with their families as a thank you for the year of service to his family.  Today, Christmas Day is reserved for immediate family, but Boxing Day is a day for gifting to friends, co-workers, employees, and neighbors. It’s a time of sharing and saying thank you.

Here in the U.S., we think of it more as Return Day.  Gather what you got for Christmas and can’t wear, don’t like or would never use, and box it up to go back to the store. If you are lucky, you can get what you really wanted on sale and have a few dollars left over.

December 26th is also St. Stephen’s Day – the day named after the first Christian martyr. He was brought into the band of believers to replace Judas, and was stoned to death for proclaiming the Gospel. You might say he gave the ultimate gift, and in giving it away, received an even greater one.   While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” (Acts 7:59)

What do you do with the gift of mercy and grace that Jesus gives? Do you use it, shelf it, or re-gift it? Do you return it unopened, or share it with others?  Do you hold it tightly to your heart, or share it to someone who needs it?

Because His mercies are new every morning, each day is Boxing Day for the believer. And the cool thing is this: the more you give it away the more you receive to give.

What will you do with the gift of Life today?

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I have become like broken pottery. Psalm 31:12

The past fifteen months, a huge hammer has repeatedly smashed my world. I once carried my life in a beautiful bowl. A sudden job loss, poor health, and other issues have left what once felt solid in scattered, tiny shards. I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces.

Have you been there? Do I see you nodding?

Contemplating my situation, especially over the past year , I noticed a cross I have hanging next to my fireplace. I bought it years ago at a church festival…long before I turned my widowhood apartment into shades of turquoise. Most of it’s life it hung outside on a patio. But it matched my sofa now, so…

Who knew God would use it to show me He loves me?

It is a mosaic, made of three or four different china or pottery items that have been smashed into pieces. The artist gathered them together, placed them carefully in the cross mold, and then poured in the plaster of Paris to adhere them into a beautiful design.

What someone else might have swept up and dumped as useless trash, she saw as beauty. She could envision the end product. She arranged the pieces just so, and created something new, and stronger, and with new purpose.

I know I am not the first person to make this analogy. But it reminds me of what Jesus said to his disciples after everyone on the mount had been fed with the fishes and loaves.  “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (John 6:12).

With Christ as my mold, the pieces of my life have been transformed into something new. He knew they’d come together in a wonderful way.  But first, they had to be broken to be repurposed. His Spirit has plastered these experiences together and made me stronger than before.

Thank you, Lord that You see the potential in each experience and that You will use it to Your glory and my benefit. Nothing is wasted. As You gathered the pieces of what I once had and began to mold them into my future,  I have drawn nearer to you, wrestled with my pride, and learned to lean on the generosity of others. Most of all, I know anew that You are always with me. Amen.

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Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

You have probably received tons of emails. Today is Gifting Tuesday, when many non profits get matching donations. If you give $10 they will get $20.  It seems everyone is clamoring for your wallet today.

Did you know that with God everyday is doubled giving day? Think about it. When I reach out beyond myself to give of my time, talent or treasure to another person, then it also blesses me.

  • I no longer concentrate on, and magnify, my own issues.
  • I feel a sense of purposefulness
  • I develop a servitude attitude that is closer to the way God wishes me to behave
  • I think I make Abba smile, and that makes me smile.

We all like to receive gratitude for our giving. That in itself is a gift. But therein lies the trap. Do we give to feel good about ourselves? Do we desire the admiration, the acknowledgement, the glory? (Notice each bullet point above starts with “I”.)

What happens when we don’t get the thanks we deserve for our generosity?

Jesus warned of this pitfall. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew 6:3).

The true blessing that comes from sacrificial giving, the gift we receive in return, is a humble and contrite heart. When we realize it all comes from and belongs to God anyway, perhaps we are less likely to act like two-year-olds grasping our treasures with a pout. Mine. Or less like the three-year-old who constantly calls out, “Look at me.”

The double gift is in the giving. Not because some anonymous donor will match it, but because our Father in Heaven will double bless it– if it is given with the right attitude of expecting little or nothing in return. The return blessing may not come immediately, or in this lifetime.

But if you think about it a bit deeper, you have already been given the gift. It is salvation through grace and mercy.  What more can you expect in return? So, go. Give it away.

 


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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Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Proverbs 30:8

I’ve watched way too much TV while laid up with health issues. I admit it. One thing I have noticed, though, is the trend to make foods deceptive.  Cauliflower cooked to resemble mashed potatoes or rice. Pasta from zucchini. Cream soups made healthy to fool the family into eating right because it tastes good. Even prepared diet foods that let you eat chocolate cake and still lose the pounds.

What’s wrong with that? Initially I was sucked in. I can eat the foods that were on my “no-no” list, as long as they are altered. Marie Antoinette was right after all. “Let them eat cake!”

The problem, as I see it, is that habits are not really being changed. People are not eating more healthy but stealth-y.

I see it in churches as well. Get ’em in the door anyway you can and then lay on the Gospel. But not to thick. Let them ease into it. Be tolerant. Let them wallow in sin and accept them. Don’t judge.

Like false mashed potatoes, it looks and tastes good. Agreed, people want to eat what they want to eat and believe what they want to believe.  I admit, there is truth in that evangelistic method. Jesus met people in their messes. We should as well.

But he pulled no punches when it came to doling out the truth. As a wise pastor I know one told me, “We need to love them enough as they are to help them change into who God calls them to be.”

While we have all fallen short of the glory of God and sinned (Romans 3:23) and we should examine the plank in our own eyes before we point out the speck in our neighbor’s (Matthew 7:3-5), if we wash down the message of salvation too much, we lose the reason for needing a Savior in the first place. That, my friends, to me is a DANGER:THIN ICE sign.

Perhaps it is best if we don’t try to fool them into eating mashed potatoes that is something else, and claim it is for their own good. Maybe we should be honest about “mashed potatoes’ nutritional value”  in the first place. Then offer them the Bread of Life.

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HAPPY REFORMATION DAY!

“On this day in 1517, the priest and scholar Martin Luther approaches the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nails a piece of paper to it containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation...A number of princes and other supporters of Luther issued a protest, declaring that their allegiance to God trumped their allegiance to the emperor. They became known to their opponents as Protestants; gradually this name came to apply to all who believed the Church should be reformed, even those outside Germany. By the time Luther died, of natural causes, in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would over the next three centuries revolutionize Western civilization.” * 


Out of one man’s protests five hundred years ago, many denominations, and even non-denoms, have sprung. Bibles, in the native language, have been placed in the hands of billions. Revivals have defrosted the frozen chosen.

Reformation – revival. Throughout Scripture God has used prophets, angels, His Son and His apostles, to realign His people with the Truth. We humans have a tendency to muddle it, complicate it, and even add conditions to it.

Every once in awhile the Church needs correction. Many believe it does today. Theologically, some pulpits have veered from Biblical straight and narrow path. Others have become too complacent and put the Great Commission on the back burner. Still others have divided over what hymns to sing, or what color the carpet down the center aisle should be.

Realign yourself with the Truth today. Nothing spooky about it, trust me. But it often takes gumption, and that can be a bit teeth chattering!  The outcome, however, is a treat--eternal life in the presence of the Lord as He smiles and says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21) No tricks.

Lord, may October 31 remind us to safeguard the faith. Give us the fervor to always seek Your ways and not our own interpretations of it. Through your Son, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.

*http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/martin-luther-posts-95-theses

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Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4
I have a horrible sense of direction. No internal compass. As a child I was told my eyes faced north, the back of my head faced south, my left hand pointed west, and my right hand east. But no one explained they had purposely positioned me so this would be true. Later I learned to look for the sun. That gave me an idea where westward sort of was, so I had some sense of direction.
Today, we seem to no longer have a moral compass in our society. We have laws, but the goal now seems to be who has the smartest lawyer who can find a way for the law not to apply to their situation. Children are taught over-tolerance in school, to the point that all behavior is okay and acceptable.

When the Hebrew nation left Egypt, they had a physical guide–God’s compass-ion. Because He cared for them, He guided them safely in the way they needed to journey.

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.Nehemiah 9:19
In our life journey, the Bible is our best compass. When we look to the Son, Jesus, as our example, we get our moral and spiritual bearings. He shows us which way we should go. He is the Way (John 14:6). Because of His compass-ion, once we accept him as our Savior, He embeds an internal compass in our souls called The Holy Spirit to be our guide.
I may not know north from south at times, but I know Who to look for to point the way, be it a decision I need to make, a direction my life needs to go, or whether I should just stand, be still and wait. I look for the Son.
If you are feeling a bit lost today, seek the Compass-ion of God. Let Him direct your path. He won’t steer you wrong.

The internet is the new 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.  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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I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

You probably have a shelf or two of them as well. Photos, knick-knacks, chotzkies. Things that are precious to you and evoke memories as soon as you notice them. A figurine from your great-grandmother, which you might take to that Antique Show one day to have it valued, sits next to the clay thingamajig  your child made for Mother’s Day in second grade. Fading photos of your kids, siblings, parents, and maybe relatives long crossed over to the other side of eternity brings happy tears welling in the corners of your eyes.

You love to point them out to visitors and tell them the story behind each one…if they’ll listen, that is. If you move, I imagine they’ll get an extra layer of bubble wrap.

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Do you have a similar, mental shelf filled with the serendipities and miracles God has performed in your life? Do you hold them close to your heart and keep them fresh in your mind to meditate upon on those days you wonder what the purpose to all this is, if things will really turn out alright,  or if He hears your pleas?

Maybe you do, and they are recorded in the back if your Bible or in journals. If so, carve out some quiet time this week to go over them, savor them and thank God anew for them.

If you don’t, that’s okay. You can begin to collect them now. How? Simply ask God to help you recall them. Then be attentive when He brings them to mind.

He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

When we recall all that God has done for us, our attitude can’t help but shift towards the positive. Just like a gas tank, the recounting of His past mercies and favors pumps into our emptiness and makes us full again. As we think about what God has done for us in the past, we can’t help but know He will come through again. His nature is constant. He is unchanging.

He was your Help, your Strength, your Refuge, your Joy and Salvation yesterday, and six months ago, and five years ago. He will be so again today, and for the rest of your tomorrows. Remember that, always.

 

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