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Put God First: Follow Him

*Today’s devotion was written in 2010 during the Lenten Season.

And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matt. 4: 19 King James Version)

As I write this devotion, it is the season of Lent. Many believers “give up” something for Lent – chocolate, TV, sodas – something they consider a sacrifice because it is something they love, perhaps too much. Perhaps it is something that prevents them from following God totally and completely. Jesus said, “Follow me.” How can we follow Him when there is something in our own lives that keeps us from putting God first?

 

Dear God, help us to look at our lives, not just during Lent, but every day, to see if there is anything that prevents us from following you more closely. May we draw closer to you with every indrawn breath and with our outward breaths, may we sing your praises. In Your most precious name, Amen.

 

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Put God First: Our All

This blog was originally posted on January 17, 2011.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version)

The word “all” means simply, “all.” Not ten percent, not half, not even ninety-nine percent, but ALL. Everything. His ways are much higher than our ways and His thoughts are much higher than our thoughts. When we try to understand things on our own, using only our knowledge, we usually fail at our understanding and at whatever task we’ve undertaken at that time. But, as we put our trust in Him, we can rest in His promises. When we give God the glory and recognize His hand and His help in everything we do, say and think, He will lead and guide us in our daily lives and He will also show us His plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Father God, we thank You that we can rest in Your promises – all of Your promises that are found throughout Your Word. Abba Father, we do give You glory, recognizing that without You, we are nothing and can do nothing. But with You and Your help, we can do all things. Thank You Father. We love you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

 

faith, growth, test, wait

The Timing of God

Originally posted on May 29, 2009

 

Yesterday, my topic was “Wait on the Lord.” When we wait on the Lord, usually we are waiting on Him to answer requests we have put before Him. The catch here is that God will answer those prayers in His timing, not ours.

We live in such a “microwave” society that anything that takes longer than just a few minutes, we think it’s too long. Consider: we have drive-through restaurants, drive-through banks, drive-through car washes, drive-through pharmacies, and even drive-through grocery stores in some areas of the country. If we don’t want to cook, we zap a frozen dinner in the microwave and PRESTO! dinner is served. Or we pick up a fully prepared meal at the deli. Don’t get me wrong – I take advantage of all of these conveniences and will continue to do so. But my point is we are instantly gratified through these services and we have come to expect instant gratification from everything and everyone, including God. We think that as soon as we pray, the answer should be manifested. Oh, we may not go around spouting that thought out loud, but it’s there.

God’s timing has nothing to do with our instant gratification and everything to do with how we handle the wait. Do we wait in peace and expectation? (The word ‘expectation’ here means we are expecting – we believe – that God will answer.) Or do we fidget and fuss, frustrated at every little delay?

Waiting on God’s timing gives us so many opportunities for growth and I believe this is one reason He wants us to wait.

  • We have the opportunity to grow in faith. As we wait for God’s answer, we are trusting – growing in faith – that He will answer.
  • The testing of our faith as we wait, produces patience. (James 1:3)
  • Patience will “have its’ perfect work, that we may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4)
  • We grow in our relationship with God.
  • Our spiritual growth will be a witness to others.
  • The reward of receiving God’s answer to our request will far surpass the trials of waiting.

Abba Father, I am waiting. I wait with faith, joy, and patience. I wait with hope – a heart of peace and expectation. Thank you for answers to my prayers that will be manifested in the future and for answers you have already given. Amen.

(c) 2009 Edwina E. Cowgill

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I Am Waiting

Originally posted October 17, 2009

John Waller sings a song called “While I’m Waiting.” The first time I heard it was in the movie “Fireproof” (which if you have not seen, you really need to see it)! It is a wonderful song and I have been hearing it in my head all week…most appropriate:

While I’m Waiting
I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

I sat down with my Bible this afternoon and immediately the Lord led me to these verses on resting and waiting:

Isaiah 30:15
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…

Isaiah 30:18-19
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.

Isaiah 40:31
31 But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

And so, I wait.

What about you? What are you waiting on?

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WAITING

As I continue to work on my book, I’m posting blogs that I wrote when i first started this blog. If you’ve already read them, I hope the Lord shows you something new that blesses you. If this is your first time reading this blog, I pray it ministers to you! This blog was first posted in January, 2011.

“But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” (Isaiah 40:31 Amplified Bible)

The above scripture is one of my all-time favorites. I’m sure I’ve written about this verse, or some aspect of this verse, many times. I always like to refer to the Bible versions that use the word “hope” instead of the word “wait.” When I’m writing or talking about this verse, I always say that “hope” is an acronym for:

H   eart
O   f
P   eace [and]
E   xpectation

I am, however, beginning to like the word “wait.” Generally speaking, I think we avoid that word. In this instant age in which we live, we don’t want to wait for anything. At least, I don’t. I have so many things written in my planner and on my “to do” list and in my Blackberry, I don’t have time to wait for anything. But that is not how God wants me and you to live. He’s called us to a life of obedience and service—not a life of being so busy that I “meet myself coming as I’m going.”

Last Sunday, the Youth/Young Adult Choir at the church where I work, led the congregation in worship. This group of young people is absolutely on fire for God. It is evident in their faces and in their music. They sang a beautiful song called “I Don’t Mind Waiting.” The director of the choir had taken the words of “I Don’t Mind Waiting” by Juanita Bynum and “Bow Down” by Bishop Paul Morton and combined the two songs. Although the words were simple, the song was powerful and worshipful. So worshipful that I could almost smell the fragrance of worship as it ascended to the heavens.

I Don’t Mind Waiting

I don’t mind waiting,

I don’t mind waiting,

I don’t mind waiting on the Lord,

I don’t mind waiting,

I don’t mind waiting,

I don’t mind waiting on the Lord,

Bow down and worship Him

Worship Him

Oh, worship Him.

Bow down and worship Him

Enter in

Oh, Enter in.

This is holy ground

This is Holy Ground

So come and bow down.

Abba Father, Help us to wait upon You and to not mind waiting. There is so much You desire to teach us and show us as we wait for Your answers. Give us ears to hear, a mind to comprehend and a heart to receive. We don’t mind waiting on You, Lord. Amen.
Selah.

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Crisis of Faith

This blog was first posted on February 24, 2010. It is now 2015, and Dave has been in pain 24/7/365 since May of 2007. Until just last week. Read to the bottom of the blog to find out the latest!

For those of you who don’t know, my sweet husband, Dave, has had numerous health issues for almost three years. It was May 4, 2007, when I first learned that he had been in pain all that week. Dave is a software consultant and normally travels 50 weeks each year. I remember that date specifically because he had come home a couple of days early to help me prepare our house for our first party. We had moved into our house in February of that same year and were finally settled in and ready to entertain. We were expecting about 30-40 people that Saturday evening.

Dave’s pain from that week never abated, in fact, it worsened. After going through many tests, procedures, exams and doctors, Dave’s first surgery was in July of 2007. Since that surgery, he has had a total of six surgeries and all six have been connected in some way to the spine. Two neck surgeries, one back, one hip and surgery on both arms and wrists. It occurs to me at this point, that perhaps it is no coincidence that all of these health problems are some way connected to the spine. The spine is the backbone of the body. It is basically what holds the body up straight and helps to hold the body together, so to speak. The husband is the priest of the home – the “backbone,” if you will. He helps hold the family together. Hmmm…definitely something to think about there. But, back to my original thoughts…Most of the time during these three years I have had all the faith I needed to believe for Dave’s healing. Yes, I questioned why he wasn’t healed, but I never doubted or lacked faith. Until a few weeks ago when I realized I had no faith left. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

A week or two after I realized I no longer had faith to believe for Dave’s healing, my priest’s sermon and article was “When Belief is Not Enough.” Coincidence? I think not. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to him after his article was published in a local paper:

Your sermon on Sunday and this week’s article are most timely for me. I find
myself in a place I have never been before. Even when my first husband left and when my teenage daughter was pregnant, and all the details and circumstances that surrounded those two situations, I never doubted God’s faithfulness. I never doubted His presence. Yes, there were times of questioning, times of being in a spiritually dry land, but even then, in the deep recesses of my heart, I knew God was there. Now, I am at the point of “I simply cannot believe.”

Dave has been in pain twenty-four hours, seven days a week for two years and nine months. We have prayed for his healing; he has been prayed for by numerous people, he has been anointed with oil and prayed for; and he has been prayed for by people he doesn’t know and who don’t know him. Not only have we not seen any healing of a measurable amount, but in actuality, he is no better and probably some worse than he was almost three years ago when this started. Dave says he has resigned himself that “this is the way it’s going to be.” And I guess that’s where I am because I can no longer believe that God will heal him.

After I wrote and sent this to my priest, I let this situation go. Completely. Let. It. Go. After all, if I no longer had faith to believe for Dave’s healing, why worry about it? Over the next several days I began to notice that I had peace about this situation. I had not done anything different-I hadn’t prayed in a different manner and I certainly hadn’t increased my faith – so why was I at peace? I had let go. Completely. Let. It. Go. And when I did and stopped worrying about Dave’s health, THEN God was able to give me peace. And with peace, comes faith and with faith, comes freedom. I am no longer worried about Dave’s health.

Spine – the backbone of the body. Priest of the home – backbone of the home. Definitely something to think about.

MARANATHA!

Last Thursday, April 9, 2015, Dave had a temporary spinal stimulator attached to his spine. This stimulator emits electrical impulses that zap the pain. It is designed to control his pain no matter what position he is in. In fact, the stimulator recognizes when he rolls over in the bed, and adjusts accordingly. The rep from the company that makes this stimulator told us that if Dave got 50% relief, they would consider the trial a success. With the permanent implant, the percentage of relief should be higher. Today (April 12, 2015) Dave has been pain free for a portion of the day!! Praise God!

(C) 2010 Edwina E. Cowgill

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A Typographical Error or a Misinterpretation?

This blog was originally posted on February 19, 2010.

I was raised in the Baptist Denomination. At that time, the King James Version was the only Bible and some people still believe that the King James Version is still the only “true” Bible out there. Baptists believed then, and still do, that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. In other words, there are no mistakes in the Bible.

There were very few (I don’t remember any) Bible translations until The Living Bible was produced when I was a teenager. The Living Bible opened the flood gates for other translations and today, there are hundreds of translations ranging from The Message to Young’s Literal Translation. In the small amount of research and study I have done of some of these translations, I have found some to be helpful in my understanding of scripture and some translations to be so far off, they’re not even on the radar screen.

I write all of this because I heard an interesting interpretation of a scripture verse last week at, of all places, a church tax seminar. (By the way, if you are reading this and you are a church business administrator, secretary, bookkeeper, check-writer, you need to call me ASAP.) This was actually a wonderful seminar because the speaker could have been a preacher, but that is not what God called him to do. There were several times throughout the day that we received short sermons. One of those sermons was on Isaiah 59:19. “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.” He related that he had heard a different interpretation and the minister that shared it, said there had been a typographical error when the Bible was first translated into English. The comma had been put in the wrong place. Move the comma to after the word “in.” Now read it: “When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.” I must admit – I like this version a lot better because it places the strength and power with the Spirit and not the enemy.

So, what is it? A misinterpretation? A typographical error? Or is it right just the way the King James Version has it recorded?

You decide and let me know what you think!!

Maranatha!

© 2010 Edwina E. Cowgill