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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
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Monday, December 10, 2018 Tenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Compassion

I have always said I have compassion for others. But I must confess I have sometimes added to  that statement, “up to a point.”  When I said that statement and those listening to me would look at me rather strangely, I would attempt to clarify my remark. “You know, we should help a person only so much and then they should “be able to make it on their own.” In my arrogance, I would make this comment without knowing the full background of the person being helped.

I’m not making excuses, although I’m sure it sounds like I am, but I had become jaded. I was working as a Church Business Administrator at that time and part of my responsibilities was to speak with those who called or came by the church seeking financial assistance. I had seen everything – from a person living out of their dilapidated car to a person who arrived in a brand new Camero to pick up a check to assist in paying their rent.

Eventually, God got fed up with my arrogance and said to me, “Who do you think you are? You are guilty of judging these people. You do not know their circumstances, yet you presume to have compassion ‘up to a point.’  I have unlimited compassion and if you desire to be more like Me, you must repent and allow My compassion to flow through you to others.”

Ouch.  Needless to say, I was on my face, repenting and asking God to pour His compassion through me. He did forgive me and began to allow me to see others through His eyes. And what an eye-opener that was. We never know what is going on behind closed doors.

I also researched the compassion of Jesus and found that as in all situations, Jesus is no respecter of persons when it comes to compassion.  Just a few references:

Mark 6:34:  Compassion towards those in the multitude who were distressed and scattered abroad as sheep without a shepherd

Mark 8:2: Compassion on the multitude in general

Matthew 20:34: Compassion on the blind

Mark 9: 22, 25: Compassion on the demonized, the victims of the power of unclean spirits

Mark 1:40-41: Compassion on the leper

Luke 7:12-13: Compassion on the bereaved

There are many more scriptures but I’m sure you are beginning to see my point. He had compassion on all who needed it. He was not selective and his compassion did not go “up to a point” – it went all the way.

In this day and age, when there are so many people suffering financially, physically or emotionally, may the gift of God’s compassion flow through each of us.

Father God, help us to always see others through Your eyes and to allow Your compassion to flow through us out to them. Give us the words You would have us speak to these people to encourage them and edify them. In the name of Jesus, AMEN.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Sunday, December 9, 2018 Ninth Day of Advent: The Gift of His Love

Jeremiah 31:3: “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

What an amazing gift! It is mind-boggling to think that Almighty God loved you and me so much that He sent His son to be born of a virgin, in the lowliest, most humble place possible – a stable, with a manger as His bed. When Jesus turned 33 years old, God caused Him, who knew no sin, to become sin for us. Jesus was crucified, bearing our sins for us; but after three days, He rose victoriously from the grave, defeating death.  If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we die we will leave our temporary home here on earth to live eternally in heaven with God and all the saints. It leaves me speechless.

Over the years, I have heard many people say “I’m sure he died for your sins, but not mine.” Or “I’m not good enough.” Or “I just don’t believe he died for me.” Or some other unbelieving remark. The Bible says “God is no respecter of persons.” In other words, if He did it for one person, He did it for all. If you had been the only living person on earth, He would have died for you.

What are some characteristics of God’s love?

• It shows no favorites. God loves us equally. He loves the sinner just as much as He loves the saint. He is no respecter of persons.

• It is unconditional. It is not based on who we are, what we do or achieve. It is not based on whether or not we deserve it. God’s love is based on the fact that He created us to be His daughters and sons. We never have to work to earn the right to be loved. No matter what we do or don’t do, say or don’t say, God loves us.

It is boundless. There are no limitations, no constraints, no conditions that we must meet for God to love us. He loves us unreservedly. No ifs, ands or buts. Period.

• It is extravagant. He pours out His love into our lives recklessly, extravagantly. Think of all the blessings He has given you. He did that because He loves you so much. There have been times when He has saved you, or a loved one, from a catastrophe, even when you were not aware of it. God’s blessings, His protection, is in your life are because of His extravagant love.

If you, the reader, don’t get anything out of any blog this month, please understand this: GOD LOVES YOU –unconditionally, boundlessly, extravagantly.

Abba Father, how can we thank you enough for your love for us? It leaves us speechless, but still we humbly say thank you. May we always be aware of your love surrounding us. We love you Abba Father. Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E.Cowgill

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Saturday, December 8, 2018 Eighth Day of Advent: The Gift of Reconciliation

 “But all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ [making us acceptable to Him] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation [so that by our example we might bring others to Him], 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them]. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation [that is, restoration to favor with God].” (II Corinthians 5:18-19, Amplified Bible)

Acts 7:26 “The day following, he appeared to them as they fought, and urged them to be at peace again, saying, ‘Sirs, you are brothers. Why do you wrong one another?’”

One of the definitions of “reconcile” according to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary is:

1 : to restore to friendship or harmony

Reconciliation comes as a result of forgiveness. If you missed the devotional on forgiveness, please go back to Day Seven and read that topic. You need to understand what it means to truly forgive someone before you can understand reconciliation.

God takes reconciliation seriously. So much so that he addresses it in Matthew 5:22-24:  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. ‘Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (emphasis mine).

If there is someone who has something against you, why not go to them as the Bible says and be reconciled?  It doesn’t matter who started the argument. It doesn’t matter what the argument was about. It doesn’t matter where the fault lies. It will not matter six months from now. But what will matter is that you are obedient to what God’s Word says. Go back to the top of this blog and read 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 again. God loved us so much that He reconciled us to Him through His Son and does not count our trespasses against us because of that reconciliation.  How can we do any less than obey Him by seeking reconciliation with the person who has something against us?

Abba Father, thank You for reconciling us to You and for giving us the ministry of reconciliation. Help us to have courage to approach those who have something against us and ask their forgiveness. We pray this in Your name, AMEN.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill