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Discovering God’s Goals for You in 2011

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21 NIV)

In just over 48 hours, we will celebrate the dawning of a new year. A new, fresh start. It is a time of new beginnings, of resolutions made, of goals set to accomplish in the New Year. Even the secular world encourages us to make resolutions.

Over the last week, I’ve read numerous articles and blog posts encouraging the reader to set goals for 2011. Many of these articles had excellent suggestions on setting goals: use the SMART© method; don’t set 12 overwhelming goals – set one goal for each month and work on that goal only during the month; and one I found rather interesting: don’t set goals, but rather select words that describe how you want your life to be, for example, peaceful, energetic, happy. Then make daily decisions that will result in those feelings.

Almost all of the articles/blog posts I read were written by Christians. Yet, not one author mentioned seeking God for His plans in 2011. Perhaps the author assumed the reader would be a Christian, thus there was no need to mention seeking God for His plans for us in 2011. I beg to differ. If anyone needs to be reminded, it’s us. Okay, it’s me. I am motivated by goals, by to-do lists, by deadlines. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means that sometimes I get so busy, that I overlook the most important goal of all: seeking God’s will for every area of my life. So, I’ve developed my personal “SMART” guidelines.

S Seek Him. Daily. Hourly. Continuously. Pray continuously. (I Thess. 5:17 NIV)

M Make your relationship with God a priority. If you don’t know Him on a deep, personal level, how can you possibly know what His desires, His goals are for you? But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. (Matt. 6:33 Amplified Bible)

A Ask Him. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:23b-24,NIV)

R Revere Him. Take time to sit at His feet and worship. And listen. He will talk with you. And I bowed down my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, Who had led me in the right way…(Genesis 24:48 Amplified Bible)

T Trust Him. When He says, “This is the way, walk in it,” then walk. Know that He will never lead you down the wrong path. Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6 Amplified Bible)

I do not profess to be a goal-setting expert. But I do believe that if we will Seek Him, Make our relationship with Him a priority, Ask Him, Revere Him and Trust Him, we will discover His plans for us in 2011 and beyond.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

It is my prayer for everyone that you will realize God’s plans for your life in 2011!

© Edwina Cowgill 2010

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Day Twenty Five: THE GIFT OF HIMSELF

Good Morning and Merry Christmas! I understand with the dawning of Christmas Day, Advent has ended. And yet, the ultimate, 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 Him 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 prevent 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 open 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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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. 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 are able to thank Him for these blessings. We are able to tell Him how much we love Him. Many times, 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 worship and bow our hearts in praise, 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 Father God 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.

Father God, 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.

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Day Twenty Three: The Gift of His Word

John 1:1-2: In the beginning wa the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the besginning. 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 am thankful for the lessons found therein and the new revelation You give to us every time we study Your Word. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

dream, vision

BOOK REVIEW: CHAZOWN

“Chazown: (pronounced khaw-zone) from the Hebrew, meaning a dream, revelation or vision.”

Craig Groeschel’s Chazown is based on the verse found in Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” The subtitle sums up the entire book: Define Your Vision, Pursue Your Passion, Live Your Life on Purpose. Who among us does not want to know whether or not we are living God’s vision for our lives?

In a Biblically-based, reader-friendly format, Mr. Groeschel walks the readers through the necessary steps to discover God’s vision for their life and how to implement that vision.

The book is divided into five sections and within those sections, each chapter contains the wisdom and direction the reader needs to walk the journey of discovering their vision. The readers will find Key Thoughts that will motivate them to think how the truths in the preceding paragraphs might apply to them. At the end of each of the five sections are exercises designed to challenge the readers to pray and think about the questions posed by Mr. Groeschel. The readers are encouraged to participate even further by writing down what God shares with them during the exercise.

There is also a personal and/or group study guide, as well as helpful appendixes to assist the readers in developing a personal time line and clarifying their core values and spiritual gifts.

This book is revolutionary. If you don’t know the vision God has for your life, Chazown will help you to discover that vision. If you’ve ever wondered if you are following God’s vision for your life, this book will confirm that for you. And if you are positive you are following God’s vision, this book will reinforce your vision even more.

Chazown is a book that that will become a permanent part of your library because you will want to read it…and read again every year or so. It is that good.

Here is a link that will allow you to download the first chapter and to watch a one-minute video of Craig Groeschel speaking about Chazown: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601423139&view=news-videos

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. The opinion expressed is strictly my own.

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Day Twenty three: The Gift of Administration

1 Corinthians 12:28: “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”

Years ago, I wondered why God created the gift of administration. I considered it one of the “lesser” gifts – not that there is such a thing. I asked God one day why He created the gift of administration and He quickly showed me that He is a God of Order. When He created the world and all that is within, He did it in an orderly fashion. On the first day, He created light and dark. On the second day, He created the sky, separating the water from the sky. On the third day, He created the land. He didn’t create light one day and go back three or four days later and create dark. There was organization and order to what He did. Okay – I got it – and once I got it, He showed me that what I had assumed I had learned over the years of being in the administration field, wasn’t the case at all. He had given me the gift of administration. To the extreme. I write that, not to brag at all, but to say that I can drive people nuts (and have done so) because I am so organized. I make lists for everything. I sometimes jokingly say I need a list of the current running lists I have!

This gift has been and is truly a blessing. It has opened doors for promotion in my career that I probably would not have gotten without this gift. It has saved my job countless times as various bosses run out the door, yelling, “where’s the…..” and I find the requested item and hand it to him/her before apoplexy starts. And the gift has helped keep me on track personally. Just don’t come to my house and look in my closets – the gift of administration stops at all my closet doors and refuses to go in!! 

How has the gift of administration helped me spiritually? I have served in numerous volunteer positions in churches over the years and I have used this gift in many of those positions, especially in teaching and in committee work.

I have served as a Church Business Administrator for over fifteen years at two different churches. Many people do not want to think of the church as a “business” and I totally agree with their viewpoint. A church is a ministry, but there is a business aspect to it. After all, if there is not someone to make sure the power bill gets paid, the ministry will cease to function very quickly. But the gift is also used in other aspects of the church office. Countless numbers of times I have been used to talk to people who are in need of encouragement, who need prayer, who need someone to listen. I have been humbled and honored to be the one to talk and pray with them. How does administration play into that? It allows me to adjust my schedule to help these people, which is what I love to do.

I am also a Christian counselor and have had the opportunity to counsel a number of people on being organized and time management. If a person’s lack of organization prevents them, for whatever reason, from doing what God has called them to do, then that is an aspect of their life that they should work on improving so they can do the things God has for them to do.

So the gift I thought of as a “lesser” gift has and continues to play an important role in my life. I love every aspect of administration and I am grateful to God for blessing me with this gift.

Has God gifted you with the gift of administration? If so, are you using it to His glory? If not, and you desire to be more organized, pray and ask for the gift of administration. Before you know it, you just might be making lists, too!

Father God, Your gifts are beyond measure! How awesome it is that You know the very gifts we need and You bestow those gifts upon us! Thank you, Abba Father. May we never take any gift for granted, but use them to bring You honor and glory! AMEN!!

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Day Twentyone: The Gift of Family and Friends

Today you get two for the price of one!  I had to take my husband to the eye doctor early yesterday morning and totally forgot to post yesterday’s blog!!  My sincere apologies and I pray that you are blessed by both posts today!

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 and a fantabulous (my new word I created: a combination of “fantastic” and “fabulous”) grandson, Mackenzie. I am blessed that my parents are still living and I have one sister 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. We don’t get to spend as much time together as I would like, but when we get together, it’s as if we had seen each other the day before.

Another friend is a strong and mighty prayer warrior. I know that I can call her any time – day or night – and she will drop what she is doing and pray with me over the phone. She has a delightful laugh that cheers me instantly when I hear it!

I have a number of “online” friends through the American Christian Fiction Writers group. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these writers in September at the ACFW Conference and they are just as sweet sincere in their desire to help in person as they are online. These men and women will take time out of their incredibly busy schedule to answer questions, give advice, and/or encouragement when needed. Many of them are successful, published authors who made a commitment to help those of us who are just getting started. And they keep their commitment every day.

I belong to a group of writers, Christian Writers United, in the county where I live. This group started in November, 2008, so we are just a little over two years old. Some of the original members left and some new members joined and we have become a cohesive family. The members in this group are exhorters and no one puts him/herself above anyone else in the group. We are there to encourage and support one another.

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 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.