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Book Review: “Chasing Abigail”

When I first began to read “Chasing Abigail” I must admit that I was a little overwhelmed by the number of characters in the book. At that time, I did not realize that this book is the second book in The Restoration Series. Yes, you can read this book as a stand-alone and you will enjoy it. I would recommend that if you can get a copy of Book one in the series, Leann’s Victory, do so and read it.

Still, I persevered and a few chapters into the book I had the characters fixed in my mind. In all fairness to the author, Renee Kinlaw, the characters and their roles were listed in the front of the book–I didn’t see that page until I was finished reading the book.

This book centered around Abigail Reese and Michael Jennings. Abigail is a young woman who ran every morning as a form of exercise, but who had also run away from love, commitment and relationships most of her life. Michael is Pastor Michael Jennings, the single pastor of Palm Island Baptist Church. Jennings has been praying, asking God to send him the woman that he has selected for him. God shows him that woman is Abigail. Michael is captivated by Abigail’s beauty and even by her wounded spirit. And so, the “chasing” of Abigail begins.

Michael and Abigail’s story is a beautiful love story, but more importantly, God and Abigail’s story is a moving story of the love of the Father for His daughter. It tells us that God stands at the door of our hearts, knocking, patiently waiting for us to let Him enter. It reminds all of us just how far our Father God will go to prove His love for us. It reminds us of how his love for us is unconditional, extravagant, reckless, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. 

Ms. Kinlaw did a masterful job in writing this book, without being pushy or “preachy.” This is a book that you will want to put on top of the stack of books by your bedside that you’ve yet to read. And you will want to read it more than once – it’s just that enjoyable.

I give this book a 10 on a rating scale of 1-10 and if I could rate it higher, I would.

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Day 25: THE GIFT OF HIMSELF

 

Good Morning and Merry Christmas! I understand with the dawning of Christmas Day, Advent has ended. And yet, the priceless gift, given for all, comes to us in a baby . . .

Luke 2 (New King James Version)

Christ Born of Mary

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Glory in the Highest

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“ Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

The beginning of our Savior’s life. His life begins humbly, in lowly surroundings. But His beginning did not stop in from doing anything that God had sent him to earth to do. He answered the call on His life.

What about you? What about me? Have we allowed our beginnings and our history to keep us from answering God’s call? If so, it’s not too late. He remains at the door, knocking. All we have to do is answer, by opening the door.

Abba Father, You have given your most precious, your greatest gift—Your son. He willingly came to earth and was born in a manger in a stable. What a humble beginning for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. At the end of His life, He was victorious over all. May we, your sons and daughters, not look at our beginning or our history or even where we are today, but look to You and answer Your call. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pray, AMEN and AMEN.

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December 24, 2018 Twenty-fourth Day of Advent: The Gift of His Presence

During this Advent season, I am unwrapping one of God’s gifts to me every day. I want to receive God’s gift, hear what He says about me, and be transformed by it.

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he [Moses] said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.” (Exodus 33:14-15)

When I opened my Advent gift this morning it was the gift of His presence. What a marvelous gift! His presence surrounds me, envelops me. The Bible says in Psalm 139 that there is nowhere I can go to get away from His presence.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.

Every step I take, He takes with me. Everywhere I go, everything I do, He is there.

LeeAnn Payne wrote an excellent book years ago titled “Practice His Presence.” The title is sums up the book completely – practicing the presence of God. One would think, as Christians, we would be aware of His presence and not have to “practice” being aware of His presence. But that is usually not the case-at least for me. I get so busy – so involved in the task of the moment – that I do forget His presence. That is why this gift is so important–to constantly remind me that-no matter what-He is always here with me and with you.

Abba Father, thank you for the gift of your presence. Help us to always be aware of Your presence and to walk in it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Sunday, December 23, 2018 Twenty-third Day of Advent: The Gifts of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23 King James Version)

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 Amplified Bible)

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control; and here there is no conflict with Jewish laws. (Galatians 5:22-23 Living Bible)

 Today, when I opened my gift, there was more than one gift, there were nine gifts!

If you read many of my blogs, you know that I love to compare different translations, as above. Today, I would like to take these translations and mix them until the two verses are completely clear.

But when [we allow] the Holy Spirit to control our lives, He will produce in us love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness [to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, Jew, Gentile], goodness, faithfulness [to God, to our families and friends, to our church, to our employers}, gentleness, and self-control [self-control of emotions, actions, thoughts]. Against such things there is no law. (Emphasis mine.)

I’m sure you’ve hear people say, “I’m just a work in progress.” That is certainly true of me, especially regarding some of these fruits – patience, gentleness, self-control, frankly, all of the fruits. But as we’ve already discovered during this Advent season, God is a God of mercy and grace. When my self-control slips, my behavior is not what it should been when I’m waiting, when my love is subjective, God’s grace and mercy offers me another chance when I repent.  He will do the same for you.

Father God, You are the God of second chances. Of as many chances as we need to exhibit, no, to live, the fruits of the Spirit. Help us to be ever aware of these fruits in our lives, to live every day demonstrating these fruits to all with whom we come in contact. It is in the matchless name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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December 22, 2018 Day 22: The Gift of Worship

Psalm 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.

Psalm 100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.

There are hundreds of verses encouraging believers to worship. Almost all of the chapters in the book of Psalms are praise and worship chapters. It is one thing that I do not have to be encouraged to do. I love to worship and I love worship music. I have worship music playing now as I write this blog.

The Westminster Catechism states: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” One way we glorify God is through our worship music and one way we enjoy Him is through our worship. When we worship, whether privately or corporately, we are entering into the presence of the Holy One of Israel. The Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How can we not help but worship the God who created us and who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for our sins that we might spend eternity with Him?

When we worship, we are reminded of the awesomeness of God. We are reminded of His goodness, His love for us and of His blessings. We can thank Him for these blessings. We should tell Him how much we love Him. Listening can also be a part of worship.Sometimes in our worship, Father God will speak to us—through the music, the words of the song and through His gentle whispers to our hearts and minds.

Worship music is beautiful and our Father’s heart is blessed to hear our voices lifted in worship. Even if we “can’t carry a tune in a bucket” as the old saying goes, we can still worship. The Bible says “Make a joyful noise” – it doesn’t say “sing a song in a perfect tune!” As we lift our hands in praise and bow our hearts in worship, we move even closer to the worship that is continually going on in Heaven. Psalm 63:4-5: “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

I have realized worship lifts my spirits when I’m down. It energizes me when I’m tired. Worship makes me feel better when I’m ill. However, this is not why I worship. I worship because I am so in love with my Abba Father. And the best way I know how to tell Him is through worship.

If you have never truly entered into worship, I encourage you to do so. Put a worship CD on at home and let yourself go in the music. Listen to the words of the songs. Let the music flood your heart, your mind, your soul. Tell Abba Father how much you love Him and listen as He answers you back. You will be so edified, so blessed, that worship will soon become a part of your daily life.

Abba Father, thank you for worship, for beautiful music and words. Thank you for times of private worship and times of corporate worship. May our lives be an act of worship unto You. May we constantly live in an attitude of worship. May our worship be a sweet smelling savor to You, O God. I love you Abba Father. You are my King, my Lord, My Bridegroom. Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Friday, December 21, 2018 Twenty-first Day of Advent: The Gift of His Word

John 1:1-2: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

When I opened today’s gift, it was the gift of God’s Word. What a treasure chest – many gifts all in one place! He gave us:

  • The story of Creation
  • Recounting of the Israelites journey
  • The Leaders/Judges
  • The story of King David
  • The beautiful Psalms
  • The wise Proverbs of Solomon
  • The story of Esther
  • The trials of Job
  • The love story between Christ and His Church – Song of Solomon
  • The Prophets
  • The story of Jesus, found in the four Gospels
  • The visitation of the Holy Spirit
  • Paul’s letters to the churches
  • The letters of Peter, John and Jude
  • The book of Revelation that reveals Jesus to the world in the final days

These are only a few of the treasures found in God’s Word! Every time we “discover” a treasure, we find there are more jewels hidden within that treasure. All we need to know, every answer we seek, is found in His Word.

Dear Father, thank you seems very inadequate for the gift of Your Word. We are thankful for the lessons found therein and the new revelation You give to us every time we study Your Word. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Thursday, December 20, 2018 Twentieth Day of Advent: The Gift of Family and Friends

“…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 24b

God has gifted me today with a wonderful family and great friends. If you have read my past blogs, you probably read about my family. I am married to my soul mate and best friend, Dave. I have two wonderful adult children, Kim and Kyle, both of whom married in 2014. I now have a son-in-love, Steven, and a daughter-in-love, Angela. Steven brings his son, Owen, and daughter, Danielle into our family. Owen is quite the wrestler and helped lead his team to the state championships in 2014. This year, he is a freshman in high school, is on the junior varsity wrestling team and has also wrestled once for the varsity wrestling team. So far this season, he is 6-0! Go Owen! Danielle has graduated high school and is currently working while trying to determine what she wants as a career. I have another wonderful grandson, Mackenzie “Mack” for short. He loves to play guitar, teaches math and is on fire for God.  And my newest grandson, Maverick, was born February 19, 2018, my birthday. What a marvelous birthday gift. I was blessed that my parents raised me in a Christian home. Both of them have now passed away, and I miss them every day, but am comforted by the fact that  I will see them again one day. I have one sister, Marie, who is also my best friend and  who I love dearly. There are also “family” members who, although not related by blood, they are still precious family to me.

God has blessed me with many faithful friends throughout the years. (There is not enough space to write about all of them and to avoid offending anyone, I have left out the names of the two that I mention.) I have one friend with whom I grew up. Our parents were best friends and she and I have been friends for as long as I can remember. And I have a dear friend, who is several years older than me, but you would never know it. Her energy knows no bounds. She is always dressed to perfection, hair and makeup perfect. The most beautiful thing about her is that she is a prayer warrior. All I have to do is mention a slight concern I have and she immediately says, ” Well we are just going to pray about that.” I’ve only known her for just a few years, but we are closer than some sisters I know.

I saved my very best friend for last. There really is a “Friend who sticks closer than a brother” and his name is Jesus. We are all human and as hard as we may try to not fail our friends, there will be times when we do. It’s the nature of the beast. This Friend, however, will never fail us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is available 24/7/365. He loves us unconditionally, extravagantly, recklessly. If you do not know Jesus as your Savior and Best Friend, find a Bible and read Romans 10:8-13. Pray and ask Jesus to be your Savior and through that relationship, he will become your Best Friend. It will be a friendship for eternity.

Abba Father, thank you for being the Friend that is closer than a brother. I pray that if anyone reads this devotional and does not know you as their Savior, that they will read Romans 10:8-13 and will pray to receive You into their heart. I pray that You will bring Christian friends into their lives to help them as they begin their friendship with You. I ask your blessings on my family and friends and on the families and friends of everyone who reads this devotional.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill