Category: <span>thoughts by Julie Cosgrove</span>

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17

Have you ever had someone rub you the wrong way? Most of us probably have. No matter how hard we try to like them as a brother or sister in Christ, our personalities clash. We may even pray for God to help us see them as He does, hoping our attitude will be altered. But each and every time they put us on edge and our back teeth clench.

We are to love one another, right? That is the second commandment of Jesus (Mark 12: 31). So why can’t we “just get over it” and love this abrasive person? Perhaps because God is still sharpening us or them.

Often times we see the speck in someone else’s eye because it is similar to the log in our own (Matthew 7:3). People can bring out the worse in us. We see our faults magnified in them without realizing it. Or they may remind us of someone who hurt us in the past. Maybe that irritating trait they exhibit is exactly what God plans to use to help mold us, correct our misunderstanding, or build His love into our hearts, which doesn’t hinge on actions or words. He may use the personality that sets us on edge as a sword to cut away something in us that is keeping us from growing spiritually.

So if someone rubs you the wrong way, perhaps that is a good thing. Even better, it may be a God-thing.

Father God, when someone rubs us the wrong way, let us turn to You for discernment. Because Your son, Jesus, commanded us to love, let us call upon Your Holy Spirit to guide us, sharpen us, and mold us so we may indeed act instead of react. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”  Proverbs 15:3

God sees more than the outward actions. He peers into the heart. We can’t hide our motives from Him. His eyes pierce the surface and penetrate into the soul.

How many times have we thought or said, “Oh, I’m sure they meant well,” when we weren’t sure that was the case? Motives and agendas are often hidden. The reasons behind people’s acts can be misinterpreted. We may not see the truth of others actions due to our prejudices, our own guilt, or our anger. Or we may be blinded by false trust, gullibility, and naivety.

Others may, in turn, misjudge us. We try our best to do what is right, but flub it, and then get criticized. Maybe we become a scapegoat for someone who doesn’t want to own up to their own mistakes and finds it easier to point to us as the source of their problems. God sees that as well.

Of course, if we do something wrong, there is no hiding that from our Lord either, is there? When Achan sinned and stole plunder from the Canaanites, Joshua called him out on it: “Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me” (Joshua 7:19).

By confessing, we honor God and acknowledge that His eyes never miss anything. That He sees all — the good and the bad, the honorable and the wicked. And when we do falter, even if we tried our best, He sees that as well, even when others don’t.

Dearest Lord, let us always honor You foremost. If we do something wrong, let us not try and hide it from You. If someone wrongs us, let us be comforted by the fact that You see all, and when our plans fail, may we find comfort in the fact that You know our intentions even before we act. In your son, Jesus’ name, Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove
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Prayer & Devotional on bearing fruit through Christ

When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God.Leviticus 19:23-25

We live in a microwave world. People want instant gratification. Kids right out of college want the corner office with a view and the big paycheck. I see newbie writers convinced their work will be a bestseller… that is, until they join a critique group or submit it to an editor. Any seasoned author knows writing the first draft is only one-fifth of the work. It takes time and effort to develop it into a product ready for the market.

I think some Christians are too anxious to bear their fruit before it is ready. They don’t want to go through the hard work God has in store to prune, weed, and grow them. So they offer a pre-ripe, sour fruit to the world and then wonder why people scrunch their noses and back away.

Now, that is not to say God cannot use them. Of course He can. He uses all of us right where we are in our spiritual journey. But His timing is purposeful. If our spiritual skin has not thickened, we may get easily bruised and our fruit may be less attractive. The full sweetness may have not developed.

I know I have jumped the gun before He had fully prepared me for a mission. Perhaps you have as well. It may not take five years, but we all should wait until the time is ripe instead of rushing ahead of His schedule. That way, He will have fully prepared us to give Him glory, and the harvest of new souls won for Christ will be increased.

Father God, Creator of all. Help us to yield to Your timing before we bear fruit. Guide us by Your Spirit to maturity even though it may take longer and we may have to work harder. Keep us patient in the process and let us not become discouraged as we wait to see what wondrous things You will do through us. In Christ’s name. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove
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Reading Gail Pallota’s eye-opening novel about dealing with a chronic hard-to-diagnose disease, Barely Above Water, one sentence popped out at me. The alternative doctor told her part of the process of getting well was to bring her issues to lightletting in God’s healing touch.

Jesus said He is the LIGHT of the world. (John 8:12) How many dark crevices do each of us have we’d prefer He not shine into? Areas of hidden shame, character flaws, deep hurts we cling to out of habit, justification, denial, or fear of letting go.  I have a few, don’t you?

Let’s not work on that one now, Lord. Let’s work on an easier one. It would be too painful to tackle that right now. I really don’t want to go there.”

But without LIGHT, how can we pinpoint the areas in our lives that are stunting our growth, our witness, our potential to do His will?  Doctors use lasers to help eradicate diseased cells. Jesus’ Spirit uses His healing touch to cauterize the places we secretly bleed.

Like peeling off a Band-Aid, we need to expose the area to the light so it can fully heal.  That means others may notice the  process. That’s alright. They will see LIGHT at work. And isn’t that what is supposed to happen? Perhaps it will encourage them to expose some areas in their lives.

And remember, scar tissue is tougher. So let in God’s healing touch to that wound, whatever it may be.

By Julie Cosgrove

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devotional on patience

For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” Galatians 5:5

She stood on her tip-toes, peering through the front window. Her mother asked her what she was doing. “Gran said she is sending me a present. I’m waiting for the delivery van to stop at our driveway.

But sometimes it takes a while to get here. Let’s find out when your package will arrive.”

The mom looked up the tracking online and told her young child what day it would arrive.
Even so, her daughter waited by the window. At lunch, the mom asked why her daughter didn’t go play with the dolls she got for Christmas or color in the coloring book she received on her birthday. A friend asked her over to play. She refused.

It may come early. I’ll stay here.”

If only discovering God’s movement in our lives was as easy as viewing a tracking schedule. If we knew our prayers would be answered at a certain time on a certain day, we wouldn’t need hope. But that is often not how it works, is it? We have to have faith in the promise that God has plans for us, that He loves us and wants the best for us. It is okay to wait with eagerness, as long as we don’t become discouraged if our prayers are not answered immediately or miss the other blessings He bestows in the meantime.

Dearest Lord, let us always place our hope in Your righteousness. Keep us from wishing so much for the things we want that we neglect the things You have given us. Let us always seek Your Spirit, and be thankful for the blessings You have already bestowed upon us. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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devotional on being clear

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb, surrendering it all, dying to self. The phrases that mean so much to us often confuse the world. Nothing new. The disciples didn’t get it at first either.

Recall what happened at Pentecost? In the first chapter of Acts, the disciples received the Holy Spirit and were able to speak in a language people understood. They themselves began to understand what Jesus had told them when He walked on earth. Things became, as we say, crystal clear.

It is easy for us on this side of the resurrection to wonder why the ones who travelled with the Lord for three years were so dense when it came to His message. But at one time, most of us were as well. Even if we were raised in the faith, it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit touched us that we truly began to see; the window to our soul was wiped clear.

Remember this when you feel prompted to speak with non-believers. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words and to provide them with the spiritual ears to listen and understand. Perhaps what you are saying will become clearer. If not, smile and leave the rest to God.

Lord, send Your Spirit to interpret for us the faith, the way and the Truth that is so dear to our souls. We desire to spread the Good News to others. Guide our thoughts, actions and tongues so Your message becomes clear. Amen.

How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit
http://www.thoughts-about-god.com/biblestudies/spiritfilledlife.htm

By Julie Cosgrove

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devotional on pondering

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

My attitude had sunk to the bottom, in huge clumps of self-pity and feelings of unworthiness. I’d become frustrated trying to find the best way to be God’s salt to a world that needed it so desperately. Each attempt only weighed me down further, like trying to climb out of a sandy pit with boulders in my pockets.

It says in Acts 4:31 that after the disciples prayed, the walls shook and the Holy Spirit filled them. When I read that, it hit me. I needed to stop and pray. Pray to be shaken a bit to redistribute my attitude, sense of purpose, and mission. It reminded me of the way a salt shaker is tapped get all the clumped salt to dislodge. That way it can be used again, and it is easier to determine how much more it will need to be refilled.

So I prayed: Lord, Let your Holy Spirit shake my walls and empty me of all my worries and self-doubts so You can fill me up with Your presence. Dislodge the worries that are clumping together the talents You gave me to be Your salt. Where I am lacking, fill me once again. Amen.

Thought: – The next time you feel too deep in the valley and you’re wondering if you are making a difference, pick up the Bible and read about how the Holy Spirit worked through the early disciples in Acts 2-4. Dare to ask God to shake you up a bit so He can fill you anew with the Holy Spirit. Then Praise Him.

By Julie Cosgrove

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devotional dailyAs I climbed the stairs a few cloudy and rainy nights ago, I noticed a difference. A veil of darkness blanketed my apartment complex corridor.  Halfway up the outdoor stairwell, the rungs disappeared into blackness. Ahead I could barely detect the light pole across the street, but its glow cast down to the pavement, offering very little help from my perspective. Needless to say, a chill clutched my chest for a second. What if someone lurked by my shadowed door?

Normally, a sconce hangs outside my entry to greet me. Via an automatic sensor, it flicks on when the skies darken. The same detector operates the ones at each of the four apartments in my unit along a sheltered, outdoor breezeway. I have become dependent upon its illumination when I come home after dark. It provides not only better ability to see the stairs and my door’s keyhole, but adds a sense of security. Tonight, that safeness I’d taken for granted didn’t exist.

The unexpected darkness unhinged me a bit.  I felt for the keyhole and worked my key into it. After several tries, at last it slipped into place. I turned it, heard the click, twisted the door knob, and sighed in relief as I entered my apartment with the table lamp lit to greet me. Safe.

Had I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dimmed glow emitting from street lamp across the street, I probably would have been able to detect the keyhole better and determine nothing evil lurked by my stoop.  But being a woman alone in the dark stairwell, I panicked –just a touch. That only made things worse. Time slowed as my anxiety increased. I became jittery with my fumbling to open the door as my brain hissed, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.”

As a Christian, have I become so used to the light of Christ that I become anxious when faced with darkness? Do I need to “see” evidence of  Christ in order to believe He is always nearby?  Now you may argue a Christian is never totally in the dark. However, there are dark periods in all of our lives simply because we walk the earth.

When difficult times hit me suddenly in life, may I not react the same way spiritually as I physically did in that dark corridor. Instead, let me wait patiently for my faith-eyes to locate my Lord, the One who calms, guides and protects my soul. In blessed assurance, may I stand firm in the knowledge that Christ has already won the battle over the principalities of darkness. I know He is my faith’s automatic sensor, illuminating me with truth when things appear darker than normal.

Unlike the one at my apartment, He will never fail to light my life.

Lord, keep the jitters at bay and thwart the desire to handle things quickly on my own. Even if I can’t see clearly with my eyes, may I always recall what the Psalmist states:  “You are the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path.” (119:105) Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

I have a few, don’t you? Those Christmas gifts in the back of the closet you will probably re-gift to someone else. They are either not your personal style, or you already have one, or you just think it is useless or ugly. However, someone thought enough of you to gift it. So the fact you didn’t actually pay for it shouldn’t bother you if you re-wrap it and give it away.

The gift of Jesus is like that, and better. He is meant to be re-gifted. We are supposed to give Him away, not hide Him. Someone at some time gave us the Light of Christ. We chose to take it and accept Him as our Savior. Now it is our turn to share that Good News. No, it is not a gift we bought. Christ did that with His own blood on the cross when He died for our sins. But that makes the gift even more precious, not less.

The receiver may take the gift and toss it to the ground, or wait until you are gone to trash it. Or they may tuck it away and not think about it for a while. Perhaps in the quiet hours of the night they sit cross-legged on their bed and slowly undo the wrapping paper to reveal His presence. It is even possible they will rip it open right there in front of you and accept it whole-heartedly. But the results aren’t up to you. Your role is to re-gift Jesus to as many folks as He calls you to do so. He takes care of the rest.

Dearest Lord, we just celebrated that the Magi brought You gifts. Help us to be bold enough to re-gift You to others so they may share in the Joy of Your grace and Mercy. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.” Psalm 19:13

The young athlete tearfully approached the podium to receive the first place prize. Holding it aloft, he thanked his coach, his parents, and his grandmother for supporting him, pushing him to achieve, and being there when he stumbled. Then his voice cracked with emotion: “Most of all I thank my Lord for endowing me with this talent.

Many outstanding people will point to those who helped them achieve their goals. It speaks well of them. They are not puffed up with false pride.

I once heard that pride and sin both have “I” in the middle. It is so easy to take the credit for our accomplishments and not acknowledge those who have assisted and influenced us along the way.

As Christians, we should first and foremost give God credit where credit is due. If we truly believe God rules, then we should thank Him for equipping us to achieve what we are being applauded for doing. Otherwise, we may slip into willful sin.

The world wants us to take the credit. But what a testimony of faith if we tell them the Truth! When we acknowledge God’s part in our accomplishments, we don’t diminish our involvement with false humility. Instead, we give Him the glory by letting others know we were willing to put out the effort to become what He created us to be. And up in Heaven, our Father nods and smiles as He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

Dear Lord, help me to always fix my eyes on You as I accomplish goals by the talents You have bestowed upon me. Keep me from the temptation of willful pride and do not let my own sense of self-importance rule over my thoughts. It truly would be a great transgression if I did not give credit to You, where it is rightfully due. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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devotionalHave you ever been stopped – without warning? A door slams shut, a hand goes up, a tragedy halts your path.  Your breath disappears. Your heart races. You are dazed for a moment as your brain screams, “What just happened?”

I believe, because it has happened to me a few times, that God uses this dramatic interruption to jolt us.  Like being t-boned from the side in an accident, we are trapped, shaken and helpless. Our lower lip quivers and the tears begin to trickle as the built up pressure crashes through the dam of normalcy we’d built. Then, with all our strength drained, we wail in distress, “Why?”

Does God hear? Yes. Does He want us to dig our heads into His shoulder and cling to Him? Absolutely. But, do we?

Not always. Some folks turn to drugs, alcohol, food cravings, reckless adrenaline adventures or sex to try and adjust to what has happened without warning. Maybe you have tried one of these things first. Like digging a deeper hole, right? Eventually you shovel so far around you the ground lets loose and you slide into it. It’s called hitting the bottom. And you stop – because you have nowhere else to go.

Someone once said, when you hit rock bottom you discover Jesus is the rock.  I have learned not to go that far. As soon as I begin to slip I look up, find His nail-scarred hand and take the faith-chance to grab onto it. I stop and let Him “go“, knowing He will never let go of me.  Inevitably when I do hold on, helplessly dangling and dependent on His strength,, the purpose and lessons become a bit clearer.  He carries me through the emotions of bewilderment and hurt, and begins to pull back the darkness as my eyes readjust to the light.

And, having gone through the process, I learn to trust His way instead of trying mine. By the time the light turns green again, I am stronger, wiser and more gracious.

There are many things to be thankful for this year. My books are selling, getting great reviews, and I am excited about the next five contracted, which are in various stages along the path to publication. I am grateful when one of my devotionals or articles or blog posts touch a heart.  I am blessed to know so many wonderful folks who support me and love me.

But most of all, I am thankful for a God who cares enough to stand by as I trip and fall, but never moves out of hand-grabbing reach. I am thankful for the times when I have whopped into the stop sign and He has guided me into wisdom by redirecting my attention. And, I am thankful He cared enough to die in order to draw me into life.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 15:57

By Julie Cosgrove

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Her sixty-two-year-old father teeters between life and death after a severe stroke. As a single mom with four small children living two hundred miles away, her heart tears in two. What do you say?

A coworker was just handed divorce papers. His face pales as his twenty-two-year-old marriage slips from his grip. What do you say?

What is there to say when tragedy strikes?

Proverbs 2:1-5 gives us a clue:

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

When tragedy hits and the reasons seem unclear, words feel futile. You wring your hands, tongue-tied. That’s the moment to turn your ear to God and ask Him for help. Cry aloud to understand so you can, in turn, know how to comfort the person in the deep throngs of grief and bewilderment. Step out of yourself, your own inadequacies, or your desire to band-aid it all, and let the Holy Spirit’s warmth and wisdom guide your actions and your words. Then, you will know what to say.

All-knowing, All-caring God, please instill in us Your wisdom so we know how to respond in love and comfort to a hurting world and shine forth Your glory and peace. Through Your Son, we pray. Amen.

Thought: When you read about, hear about or witness a tragedy, take a moment to pray before you respond. Let God equip you. Then have faith that He is working through you.

By Julie Cosgrove

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This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

God didn’t create me with a green thumb. But I have friends who are avid gardeners. They plant tiny seeds and nurture the plants all the way to maturity, each bearing the vegetable or herb or fruit they are supposed to bear. A tomato plant doesn’t sprout okra, or a carrot a potato.

The same is true with us humans. God grants each of us the talents to do the tasks He has appointed us to accomplish. He equips us, nurtures us, pulls the weeds of negativity and sin from around us, and even stakes us so we grow in the correct direction. When we feel parched or hungry, He waters us with His Word, the fellowship of others and worship. In return, we bear the fruit He has deemed us to bear.

It is easy to become envious of someone who seems to be growing faster, taller, or more abundantly. But, if you are called to be a potato quietly growing under the surface don’t wish to be a tomato bursting in bright color and juiciness for all to see. In God’s garden, we are to become what He has made us to become. An old saying states we should “bloom where we are planted.” Our job is to absorb all the nutrients He provides on a daily basis so we become resistant to the things that want to thwart our growth. When the time is ripe, He will walk through the garden and pick us.

Dear God, grow me in the way You wish. Let me yield my crop according to Your will. Thank You that I am significant because You planted me for a purpose. Help me not to compare my growth to others in unhealthy ways. And when the time is right, let me bear the fruit of the Spirit so others may feed on Your Truth. Amen.

Thought: Does your spiritual growth feel slow or stymied lately? Ask God how you can bear more fruit for Him.

By Julie Cosgrove


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And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:9

Decades ago, Amy Grant recorded a song which talks about having her Father’s eyes. By it she meant seeing the world, and other people, as God sees them. The one phrase that is repeated over and over again in the creation story of Genesis is that God declared his creation as good.

As a child of God, formed in His own likeness, do you view the world that way? It is hard when the evening news and social media bombards us with the evil happenings in our homeland and elsewhere in the world. Horrific mass shootings, sex slavery, religious persecution and the bombing of fellow humans fill our newspapers, magazines and Facebook newsfeeds.

Yet, Paul states in Romans that God can purpose good from evil. In the midst of tragedies, humans seem to suddenly be at their best. For the USA, 9/12 (the day after the World Trade Center and Pennsylvania field tragedies) will be depicted in history as one of its finest hours.

The same is true in the aftermath of any unfathomable event, from natural disasters to senseless human wrath. People, who rarely pray, get down on their knees. Charities spring forward, laden with donations. Neighbors, who barely nodded hello before, now embrace. The faithful find strength through prayer circles. Witnesses give accounts of miraculous signs and wonders amidst the devastation.

And, God looks on with joy as He views those He created as good in His image.

Heavenly Father, You created us as good. However, through sin, we have turned so much into evil. Help us to still seek the good, a sign You are near, and view the world through Your omnipotent, mercy-filled eyes. We pray this through Jesus, Your Son whose death makes that possible. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Julie Cosgrove Thoughts by Women

devotional

Do not judge and you will not be judged.” Luke 6:37

In today’s society of over-tolerance and lack of personal responsibility, this command of Jesus seems to fit right in. But does it allow us to be wrapped up in our own little world doing what we want because we are not to judge and others are not to judge us? Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Jesus did not say we should not speak out against hypocrisy. He did not say we should silently allow atrocities such as abortion, child abuse, elderly neglect and sex slavery to exist in our communities. He did not say we should ignore the fact that someone has lied or cheated or stolen, no matter their power or stature in society. Justice must reign. Civic laws must be obeyed.

So what did Jesus say? Jesus says judgment is final, unwavering. We are not called to do that. Only God can judge, but we can act as His servants to lead a person to ask for forgiveness so he or she may be justified through Christ. Sure there may be consequences for their actions, but no one is beyond redemption.

Earlier in the same chapter, Jesus commands us to: love our enemies (see them as fellow sinners in need of a Savior); turn the other cheek (do not let our emotions get in the way); pray for those who mistreat us (give them to God); and be merciful (see them through God’s eyes). That’s justice God’s way, not taking judgment into our own hands.

Heavenly Father, only You have the right to judge. Thank You for forgiving my sins through the power of the cross. Teach me to see others not as people who need judgment, but people who need Your justice in their lives. Show me how I can help in that process. Amen.

The next time you are quick to judge, stop and ask God to alter your attitude so you might be an instrument in bringing that person to true justice—through Jesus.

By Julie Cosgrove

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Thoughts by All thoughts by Julie Cosgrove Thoughts by Women