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Monday, December 17, 2018 Seventeenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Purpose

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you…plans to give you hope and a future.”

You have a purpose in life. God did not plop you down on earth and forget about you. He knew you when you were still “in your mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13) and He had a purpose for your life even then.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” (Ps. 139:16 NIV)

It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are, God has a purpose for you.

I remember attending a ladies’ Sunday school class many years ago when “Miss” Dottie, a woman in her 70’s, spoke up and stated that she felt her purpose in life was to be faithful to her husband and to raise her children in a Godly home and see them succeed in life. She confessed that she felt God was through with her on the earth–her purpose in life was finished. The Senior Pastor’s wife was teaching this class and her answer applied to every woman in that room. “Your purpose in life is finished when you stand before God in heaven, and not a minute before. Just because you are of an older generation than most of us in this room does not mean your purpose is finished. Don’t put God in a box. He is not finished with you.” “Miss” Dottie lived to her mid-nineties and she became a mentor to other women – young and old. God’s purpose for her was different than she expected in her later life, but it was still His purpose and He used her to influence many women.

Mordecai told Esther in Esther 4:14 that she had been “brought to the kingdom for such a time as this.” I daresay the same statement applies to each one of us. You have been placed here for “such a time as this.”

If you know the purpose God has for you, listen to Him. He will tell you when it’s time to implement that idea. He will give you step-by-step instructions and everything you need to walk in His calling.

For many people, God has more than one purpose planned for them. Listen to Him as He shares His intentions for you.

If you don’t know the purpose(s) God has for you, ask Him and listen. At the right time, He will reveal His plans for you and it will be immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Dear Father, Thank you for having a plan for each of us. Thank you for leading and guiding us to fulfill that purpose. I pray for those who are reading this today who may not know Your will for them. I ask You to show them the plans and purposes you have for them.  In Jesus’ matchless name, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Sunday, December 16, 2018 Sixteenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Truth

John 8:32: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In order to understand how truth sets us free, we must first look at how not knowing the truth keeps us bound.

What people perceive to be the truth is truth to them.  Whether or not it’s really truth has nothing to do with what they believe.  Their perception—about themselves, others, any situation—is truth to them. For example, when a woman looks in the mirror and tells herself, “You’re fat, you’re disgusting, no one can love you if you look like this,” that is truth to her, even if she weighs one hundred pounds and is five feet, six inches. Because she believes what she says, it is truth to her.

Another example is the person who tells themselves that God doesn’t love him or her. “I know He loves others, but not me.  I’ve done too many bad things for Him to love me.” Until the real truth is revealed to this person, and they come to know and believe that God truly does love them, he or she will believe that He doesn’t love them and that will be his or her truth.

Where do we find the truth?  The same place we find all of the answers to our questions and challenges.  We find truth in the Bible. As we search the Scriptures, God reveals the truth to the answers we seek. When we pray and listen to God, He will speak to us, providing us with the answers we need. And as we sit in His presence, He will pour out His love into our hearts and lives, showing us how much He adores us.

God will also reveal Himself and His truth in the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We “celebrate the Eucharist” or as some denominations call it “communion.” Whatever your denomination calls it, it is a time of remembrance and reflection, and listening to God as He may speak to you during this time.

My prayer for you during this Advent Season is that “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!”

Father God, I ask in the name of Jesus that You reveal the truth to each one who is searching today. Whether they are searching for truth about themselves, others or a situation they find themselves in, I pray that You will reveal the truth to them, giving them Your wisdom and guidance. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Saturday, December 15, 2018 Fifteenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Provision

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.

The gift I opened this morning is the gift of provision. As the Scripture states in John 10:10, Jesus has come that we may have an abundant life. Many people interpret this verse to mean that Jesus came to give us eternal life in heaven if we receive him as Savior. That is true – and it will be a glorious eternity!  But I also believe it means that we can have an abundant life on earth.  God wants to bless his people here as a testimony to His love for us and to His greatness.

Philippians 4:19
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (NIV)

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. (The Message)

God is in the business of meeting our needs!

Psalm 138:8

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me.(KJV)

Our needs, wants and concerns make up a part of our lives. But God plainly states that He will supply our needs and He will perfect – “take care of” – those things that concern us. Again, He does this because He loves us and wants to bless us and so that the testimony of praise will be given to Him and not to a person.

This is not to say that the Christian life is free of heartache and trials. If you’ve lived any length of time, you know this. But God still provides what we need because He walks with us through those trials and heartaches. He will lead us, guide our steps and grow us as He teaches us spiritual truths during those times. He will never stop loving us and He will never leave us or forsakes us.

God is concerned with everything with which we are concerned; He is concerned with every aspect of our lives. And He will provide all that we need—in good times and in difficult times.

Abba Father, Thank You that You love us so much that our concerns are Your concerns. Thank You that You are the Giver of Life and that You give us life more abundantly. May we never take that life for granted! In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Friday, December 14, 2018 Fourteenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Protection

Psalm 91 (The Amplified Bible)

He who [a]dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].
2  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!” 
3  For He will save you from the trap of the fowler,
And from the deadly pestilence.
4  He will cover you and completely protect you with His pinions,
And under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and a wall.

5  You will not be afraid of the terror of night,

Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 

6  Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction (sudden death) that lays waste at noon.
7  A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But danger will not come near you.
8  You will only [be a spectator as you] look on with your eyes
And witness the [divine] repayment of the wicked [as you watch safely from the shelter of the Most High]. 
9  Because you have made the Lord, [who is] my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10  No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11  For He will command His angels in regard to you,

To protect and defend and guard you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. 
12 They will lift you up in their hands,
So that you do not [even] strike your foot against a stone.
13  You will tread upon the lion and cobra;
The young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14  “Because he set his love on Me, therefore I will save him;
I will set him [securely] on high, because he knows My name [he confidently trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never abandon him, no, never].
15  “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him. 
16  “With a long life I will satisfy him
And I will let him see My salvation.”

                                                                                     

 

Psalm 91 is known as the protection chapter of the Bible. In fact, at one time, there was a saying to the effect that Psalm 91:1 is the 911 call of Christians. We are told that the Lord is our refuge and strength and that we can trust in Him. We are promised that His faithfulness will be our shield and rampart; that we can hide underneath the shadow of His wings. We are protected from the terror of night, the arrow that flies by day, the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, and the plague that destroys at midday. And the list goes on.

What this chapter says to me, is that not only are we protected from those things that are listed, but anything that concerns us. Look at verses 15-16: “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Another scripture Psalms 138:8, says that God will “perfect those things that concern us.” In other words, He will take care of all of our concerns – if we will let Him. In today’s world, there is much about which to be concerned. But God is still on the throne; He is still in charge. And He will answer our prayers and will take care of our concerns.

Father God, thank You for protecting us. Thank you for answering our prayers and for taking care of all the things that concern us. May we always be aware of Your protecting presence in our lives. We love you Abba Father. Amen

 (c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

 

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Thursday, December 13, 2018 Thirteenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Health

This blog was first posted in 2009.

3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things, and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (New King James Bible)

Isaiah 53:5 “…and by His stripes we are healed.” (New King James Bible) (emphasis mine; present tense)

Psalm 103:3 He forgives your sins—every one. He heals your diseases—every one. (The Message)

These are just three of the many verses on healing and health. We know that it is God’s will and purpose for us to live in health. So why do so many of us, me included, have health issues? When we pray for people to be healed, why aren’t they?

These are, frankly, questions that I have struggled with for a long time.  I will be taking my husband to the hospital in less than two hours to have his fifth surgery in less than two years. We have prayed for him to be healed. Others have prayed for him to be healed. He has been anointed with oil and prayed over to be healed. So why hasn’t he been healed?

It is not because we don’t believe God can heal him. We do. I have seen God’s healing power work in my own life and the lives of others. We know God can heal.

I think illness is a part of life. I’m not saying we should accept it as such. We should always pray and believe for healing.  What I am saying is because of the sin of Adam and Eve, evil entered the world and sickness is part of that evil. I do not believe sickness is punishment for a sin that the sick person committed!  I am only saying that I believe illness is part of the evil in the world and because we live in the world, there will be times when we are sick.

Regardless of how we get sick, or why we get sick, our responsibility as Christians is to believe for healing. We should ask God to use the illness as a time to teach us things He wants us to know and make this a time for spiritual growth.

Father, I pray that you will touch each person that reads this blog today. If they are ill, I pray in the name of Jesus that You will heal them as they read this blog. Strengthen their faith in Your healing power.  Help them to lean on You to meet all of their needs, Thank you Father for loving us so much You desire for us to live full and healthy lives here on earth. AMEN.

© 2018  Edwina E. Cowgill

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018 Twelfth Day of Advent: The Gift of Service

I Corinthians 12:4-5 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

Dictionary.com defines service as “an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service.” Another definition listed is “the serving of God by obedience, piety, etc.: voluntary service.” If we combine these two definitions to develop a “spiritual” definition, it might look something like this: The activity of obeying God’s command to serve others.

Matthew 35:25-40 “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “

As it says in I Corinthians 12, there are different kinds of service. Many people have been given the serving gift of hospitality. Not only can they whip up a gourmet meal to take to someone who’s just gotten home from the hospital, they will also open their home for indefinite periods of time to host missionaries, evangelists and those who are displaced. When it comes to hospitality, unexpected guests for dinner, or guests who stay for months, do not rattle them. There is nothing related to hospitality this group of people can’t do. It is a special gift and calling with which God has blessed them.

There is also the serving gift of helps. By “helps” I mean helping in ways that those being helped cannot do. For example, repairs to items in the home, or the house itself, or car repairs. Some people help by running errands, driving those who can’t drive to the doctor or grocery store. The serving gift of helps is an extremely important one, especially to those in need.

Many people have the serving gift of visitation.  Most people probably don’t look at visitation as a gift. Have you ever known anyone who is comfortable in any situation? They can go into a stranger’s home and immediately put everyone at ease. They can visit those that mourn and know exactly what to say to bring comfort to the mourner. They can call on those in the hospital and bring cheer by their very presence. That is the serving gift of visitation.

Jesus was a servant. We don’t often look at Him that way. What we consider miracles was simply an act of service to Him. He served the people by feeding the multitude. He served His disciples by teaching them. He served the sick by healing them. Everything Jesus did during His three short years of ministry was an act of service.

He has given each of us the gift of service. Some will have the gift of helps or hospitality, as already mentioned. Others may have the gift of exhortation, or encouragement, still others may have the gift of showing mercy or the gift of teaching. All of these are used in our service to others.

What is your gift of service?

Father God, during this season of Advent, may we use these gifts that You have graciously given us to bless others. Open our eyes that we may see the opportunities to serve others. Give us courage to move forward and help when we see those opportunities. I ask that You bless everyone that we serve. In Jesus’ matchless name, AMEN.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

everlasting love, passion

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 Eleventh Day of Advent: The Gift of His Passion

Passion: intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.
passion means intense emotion, compelling action. passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.
God is a God of passion for creativity and beauty. His passion created the world and all that is within. His passion for beauty can be seen as we behold a sunrise on an early spring morning, the colors in a field of wild flowers, the multitude of stars we can see on a clear night.

His passion for us can be found throughout the Bible.

·         “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.  (Jeremiah 31:3*)
·         The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 Amplified)
·         “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 6:3 New King James Bible)
·         “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes.” (Song of Solomon 4:9 NKJV)
Many people believe the Song of Solomon is a love story between a bridegroom and his bride. And that is true, but not in the sense that they are assuming. The Bridegroom (or the Beloved) is God and the Bride (or the Shulamite) is His Church. That’s right—you, me and all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. So when the verse says “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride, you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes” that is God speaking to us. Can you begin to understand the extravagance of His love for you? His passion for you? With just one “look”—glance—from you to Him—you ravish His heart—you make His heart beat faster.
His passion in us brings out the creativity that He placed in us. Have you ever known a painter who does not have passion for painting? Or a musician who does not love to sing or play their instrument? It is their passion for their calling that stirs their creativity. This passion to be creative is in each of us, even those who may not know Christ as their Savior.
The most obvious example of God’s passion for us is shown when He gave His only Son to die on the cross for us. Can you imagine His pain? His anguish? The tears He shed? To watch His son die and turn His back on Him so that we might have eternal life? Can you begin to fathom the depth of His love for you? His love for you knows no beginning or end. It is eternal and unconditional.
If Christ is living in us, we have that same passion.  God is asking us to apply His passion that is in us to everything we do and say.
“How can I do that?” I can hear some of you asking. “How can I apply His passion when I hate my _______?” (You fill in the blank) Suppose you filled in the blank with “job.” The Bible says everything we do, should be done as unto the Lord. When you do your job as unto the Lord, it is easy to have passion for that job…or marriage…or life.
Father God, thank you for the gift of passion. May everything we do and say be filled with Your passion that resides in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill