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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

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018 Nineteenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Freedom

My present today was the gift of freedom.  When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, he sets us free from the bondage of sin. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36) Once saved, our lives are no longer tangled up in sin and shame.

In II Corinthians 3:17, the Bible says “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. This is so true. Have you ever been in a worship service or even been worshiping by yourself, and you knew the Spirit of the Lord was present? You felt completely free during that time to worship without inhibition.

We are given the freedom to approach God.  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Eph. 3:12) We don’t have to build up our courage, or wait until we think the timing is right. We don’t have to wait for an invitation. We have the freedom to approach God any time – day or night.

The freedoms that I mentioned fall into a category that I call spiritual freedoms.

There are also freedoms that I call secular freedoms. These are freedoms that allow us to express our beliefs publicly. We have the freedom to worship where, when and how we please. We do not have to hide our Bibles, much less our faith. We are free to witness to others anytime. We have the right to assemble together in church buildings and storefront buildings and borrowed locations all over America. My concern is that these freedoms are in grave danger. Other religions in America are being given preferential treatment while Christianity is being choked out of existence. We, as Christians, need to stand up for our rights and not have the defeatist attitude that seems to have overtaken so many. I, for one, love my freedom to worship publicly and do not want to lose it.

Father God, I pray that you will give us the courage to stand up for our rights as  Christians. I pray that You will show us when to act, what to do and what to say. I ask that You stir the hearts of all Christians that we might stand united as one for our religious freedoms. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018 Eighteenth Day of Advent: The Gift of Contentment

  

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12)

The Apostle Paul wrote these verses as he sat in a dirty, foul-smelling Roman prison. Yet, he was truly content. Had that been me, I’m sure I would have been screaming–furious at the lack of cleanliness, furious at the circumstances, furious at the unfairness of it all.

Still, I have experienced times of true contentment. I have realized that these times of true contentment are when I have listened and been obedient to what God has told me to do. Or the times when I have been wrestling with a problem and finally relinquished it to God. I let go of worrying about it, of trying to “fix it” and left it in Jesus’ most capable hands to resolve it as He saw fit. That is very hard for me to do – I’m such a fixer – I want to fix everything. And I’m impatient too. I want to fix it and I want to fix it NOW! So in addition to giving that problem to God, I have to be content with His timetable, not mine. It’s not easy, but I’m learning. One thing I do know: God’s solutions are always more satisfactory than mine would ever be and the contentment is much sweeter than when I try to fix the problem. In fact, there is no contentment when I try to fix the situation.

My commitment is to learn to live in true contentment all the time. It should be easy. All I have to do is unfurl this fist that is tightly woven around this problem…..

Father, I ask in the name of Jesus, that You would help us let go of the problems that would prevent us from being content. I pray that You would enable us to leave those problems in Your hands, knowing that Your solutions are always for the best. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(c) 2018 Edwina E. Cowgill

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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