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

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Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1:36-38

When Jesus healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, the word spread quickly. All evening and into the night people crammed the entryway with their sick relatives. Jesus healed many of them, but not all.

Then, Mark tells us Jesus went off by himself to pray in the wee hours before sunrise. Later that morning, when more people banged on the door and demanded Jesus’ healing, the disciples went looking for Him. I think Jesus’ answer might have shocked them a bit.

God called His Son to give eternal life, yet the people could only see the need for healing the shell in which they lived there and then. They missed the point. They couldn’t see that Jesus came to offer them so much more. If He had returned to that town, He may have been mobbed by those still seeking healing. None of them realized the true healing He offered through His teaching and eventually through His sacrifice on the cross.

So, after praying about it, Jesus obeyed His Father and moved on…. The truth of the gospel is this: there is more to life than what we are facing, suffering or rejoicing in right now. Sure, we can pray for Jesus to heal us, relieve us, or help us through whatever we face today. However, Jesus calls us to experience something beyond our daily needs. If you feel overwhelmed in your life right now, pray about it. Refocus on the gospel and its message—Jesus came to give us so much more than what worries us at the moment.

Father God, help us to realize Your great plan for all who call Jesus their Savior. Let us not be so concerned about the here and now that we miss your blessings and promises for the hereafter. Amen.

Thought: What have you been focusing the most on lately? Is it today or eternity?

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By Julie Cosgrove

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Don’t be anxious about your life, what you eat, or drink or wear.” Matthew 6:25

In the book of 1 Kings, God tells Elijah, his faithful prophet, that there will be a huge drought. Then He commands him to go live by a brook—not a deep river like the Jordan or a giant lake like Galilee, but a puny stream surely to dry up without rain. It was like saying, “I am going to bring about a great calamity and I want you to sit in the middle of it.”

Yet Elijah trusted and obeyed.

When I became a widow, I felt like I was stuck living by a drying-up brook. My husband had been the primary breadwinner and I was a self-employed freelance writer. In tough economic times, he left me with very little as far as a nest egg. Each month, as the house sat on the market, I watched the brook—my checking account—become drier and drier. But, I took  Matthew 6:25 to heart. “Don’t be anxious about your life, what you eat, or drink or wear.

God sent Elijah ravens to feed him bread every day until the rains came. He provided daily manna to the Hebrews in the wilderness. I can honestly say God has provided my daily bread since my husband left this earth in 2010. It would take a novel larger that Moby Dick to relay all the creative ways He’s sent another raven just when I needed it. At last, the soft rain is falling, my financial brook is rising, and my faith has never been so strong.

Dearest Lord, You are our provider. All comes from You and through You. Thank You for caring enough about me to give me my daily needs—and occasionally my wants, too. Most of all, thank You for Your Son who gave all for me. Amen.

Take Action:  Write down three to five things you “need” (not want) right now. Be bold enough to pray for God to meet your needs. Fold the paper and tape it to the back of the calendar page for December. At the end of this year, see how many needs God has provided, replaced with something better, or proven it was not what you needed after all.

By Julie Cosgrove

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Questioning Man

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

The small child whined to her mother in the grocery store checkout line. She twisted back and forth, her head titled up to her meet her mother’s face. “But, Mommy. I neeeed that candy bar.

The mother’s lips curled into a smirk. “Do you really need it?

How often do we come to our Father in Heaven and plead for what we think we need, confusing it with a want? Just like that child, we plead for the “desires of our hearts.” After all, doesn’t it state in Psalms that is what God will do? (Psalm 37:4) Didn’t Jesus say he’d grant anything we asked for in His name? (John 14:13-14)

Ah, there is the catch—in His name. When the desires of our hearts match that of Jesus’ then we can ask in His name (like-minded with Him) and it will be granted. What did Jesus ask for? To do His Father’s will and be a witness of obedience to His disciples. Jesus asked for strength and endurance to complete the task God gave Him. And He wanted us, His followers, to be with Him in Heaven.

God will satisfy our needs just as He does the lilies of the field and the sparrows. It doesn’t necessarily mean He will wave a magic wand to end all of our problems, heal our loved one’s cancer, or find us that high-paying job so we can afford a boat, a new car or a dream vacation. If the desire of your heart is to do God’s will, you can rest assured God will supply everything you need to accomplish it. And what is God’s will for us? Paul spells it out in I Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We can rejoice no matter the circumstances when we are confident that God will satisfy our needs and has our best interests at heart, just like the mom in the grocery store. God wants the best for us, and often that means not giving us everything we want.

Father God, help us discern what we need and what we want. Teach us above everything else, if we align our desires with Your will, then we can have confidence You will supply all we need. Steer us away from the wants that may harm us or turn us from You. Let Your Son Jesus be our example and Your Spirit be our guide. Amen.

Action Point: Make two columns and write your needs on one side and your wants on the other. Do all of your wants honor God? Do you Trust God to satisfy your needs?

By Julie Cosgrove

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I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is, and was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

Read that verse again, and this time let it soak deeply into your soul. Doesn’t it bring you comfort?

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. God is saying He is the beginning and the end—of your day, every day and also of your life. I have heard it said that we should sandwich our day in prayer. This means we invite Christ into our lives the moment our eyes pop awake, and then ask Him to bless and keep us as we close them. Another saying often depicted on plaques and in cross-stitch patterns states, “A life knotted in prayer at both ends won’t unravel.” Begin and end your day with God.

There are days I try to jump start on my own without inviting my Lord into them. There are nights I cast my worries upon my pillow instead of onto Him. But the days I start and end with acknowledging God in my life seem to go better. Not that bad things don’t happen on those days, but their impact on me is not as devastating. I find that once I invite my Lord into my day, I am more aware of Him being with me throughout it. He was there a heartbeat ago, He is here now, and He will be there a few breaths from now. Alpha and Omega—the beginning and the end, and every time in between.

My Lord, spur in me the desire and discipline to make You my first and my last thought each day. I know when I let you into my life I become more aware of Your presence, Your love and Your guidance. Teach me to praise when I arise and thank You when I retire for the night. And in between, remind me I can rely on You to be there, always. Amen.

Thought: For the next week, consciously make an effort to pray as soon as you wake up and then again right before you go to sleep. See if your attitude becomes more joyful and positive

By Julie Cosgrove

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In the 3rd chapter of Acts, it says that Peter and John were in Jerusalem and walked by a gate leading into the Temple, the gate called Beautiful. There sat a crippled beggar. They instantly healed him and brought him walking and dancing into the Temple. But did you know his soul was made whole as well? He had been touched by God’s love through the apostles’ hands.

The Hebrew worshipers were astonished because they had passed by this man day in and day out on the way to worship. Maybe some had contributed a small coin to his livelihood now and then when they had spare change. But, it never occurred to any of them to bring God’s healing love to the man. That would have taken more effort and faith.

As Christians, we are called to look around us and see who is hanging out just outside the gate called Beautiful—just outside our blessed lives—who may need God’s love, despite how “loveable” they may appear. It may be a street beggar, or the in-law that sets your teeth on edge. Perhaps it is that really negative person at work who gossips about everyone, or a stranger who slips in and sits on the back pew.

We have experienced His love, being healed in spirit, and maybe in body too; therefore, we are to bring others into His Temple of Mercy. It’s our calling to take them by the hand and help them enter through the gate called Beautiful (because we are all precious in His sight) into His loving presence where they can be made worthy by His sacrifice.

No matter how busy I am, Father, show me who to lead through the gate called Beautiful today: maybe with a smile to a harried grocery store clerk, or letting that person in ahead of me during rush hour traffic, or hugging a loved one even when I’ve had a rotten day. Teach me each day to pray, then obey, and not walk away. Amen.

This week, pray for God to show you who you should lead through the Beautiful Gate. Then obey, and don’t walk away.

By Julie Cosgrove

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devotional online freeOne of my favorite Christian singers is the troubadour Michael Card. One song in particular,Why?”, brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it. He sings that no one had to nail Jesus to the cross because His love would have held Him there. Wow!

Can you picture that? Each time we bow and confess before Him, we can see Him there, compelled by love, taking punishment on for us. Every time we think we are not good enough to spread the truth about Him, His love hangs there to strengthen and correct us. Those days when we doubt ourselves, His arms stay stretched on the wooden beams so He can draw us to Himself.

John 15:13 states, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus’ demonstration of love goes far beyond that measuring stick. His love held Him on the cross until His last breath, when even His Father turned away as He took on our sins. He could have crawled down. He could have saved Himself from that excruciating death. Instead, in the ultimate act of love, He hung there and saved you and me instead.

Dearest Lord, how can we fathom the depth and breadth of Your love for us? Thanks You for choosing to hang on the cross for my sake. Teach me how to go deeper in my love for You and others in response. Amen.

By Julie Cosgrove

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free online devotionalTo this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.John 3:27

A three year-old child grabbed the toy and screamed, “Mine!

Her Sunday school teacher gave her a stern look. “Sarah, did you bring that from home or does it belong to the church?” “It belongs here. But it’s still mine.” Tearfully, she pouted and turned away, the toy tight against her torso.

As I observed this scene, I asked myself if I slip into the same attitude when it comes to what God have given me. Whether it is a small denomination bill from my purse handed to the beggar on the street, or the check I place in the offering plate, the meal I share with friends from my cupboard, or my talent in writing or speaking…it has been gifted to me by my gracious Lord, the creator of all.

I may think I have “earned my pay,” but God gives me each sunrise-day to go to work and the physical and mental ability to do my job. He forgives my sins, having paid for them on the cross. He lovingly blesses me with more than I deserve. Am I willing to freely share my time and treasures, or do I cling to them and claim it is all mine?

Dearest Lord, may we always remember that all is Yours to give or take away. Thank You that You provide so much for us. Keep us from being greedy like a three year old clutching Your blessings to our chests and crying, “Mine.” Help us to peel our fingers away and offer it back to You to use to Your glory, be it our money, our time, or our talents. Amen.

Thought: Is there something you are clinging to, claiming it is rightfully yours? Will you give it to God and trust Him to tell you what to do with it?

By Julie Cosgrove

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feature flowerBlessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

I believe God reveals Himself in many ways-
through Scripture, the wisdom of a friend, a soul-stirring
hymn, an ant dragging ten times his weight,
a squirrel romping in the autumn mist, a parent in a
giggly embrace with their child, a sunset after a storm,
or in a whispered comfort as you cry into your pillow.
He promised if we seek, we will find.

God will make His presence known each and every day –
You just need to open your faith eyes.
That’s not always easy to do, especially  when the pressures of
this world have clouded over your view of life.  I get that.
I have been there—often.

Just try to focus on what He has blessed you with today,
not on what has gone wrong.
hen wait like a child with her nose pressed to the window—watching.
Be still and listen for Him moving in your day.
Hear His footsteps treading quietly on the path of  your life.

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all the day long.”
Psalm 25:4-5

By Julie Cosgrove

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christmasTherefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry1 Corinthians 10:14

A friend came over to watch my latest movie I got in the mail. We ordered Chinese food to be delivered.  At the bottom of the sack were two fortune cookies. I like fortune cookies. They are just sweet enough without totally wrecking my diet.  I cracked mine open to see what silly fortune lay inside. I always like to look and read it, roll my eyes, then toss it away, ignoring the lotto numbers on the reverse side. This time, it was empty! No fortune. At first I felt rather cheated. Then God, in His subtle way, let me know He was teaching me a lesson.

As Christians, we are to worship only the Triune GodFather, Son and Holy Spirit, three in one.  After all, the first and second commandments instruct believers to have no other god before Him and not to worship idols. Today, we don’t sacrifice to Egyptian, Roman or Greek gods and goddesses, or bow down to Baal, but idol worship is still prevalent in many subtle ways in our culture.

Like reading a fortune from a fortune cookie. Have you read your horoscope in the newspaper? Do you avoid ladders or black cats?  Habits and traditions seep in. It may sound innocent enough, but each time, it is chipping a little chink in the armor of the Spirit of God. Whether we realize it or not, each time we turn our attention away from His control over our lives. There’s a slight indentation from an arrow aimed at our faith, a crack that lets in a tiny bit of temptation. No big deal, or is it?

The next time you wish upon a shooting star, blow on a dandelion, throw salt over your shoulder, knock on wood, read your horoscope or crack open a fortune cookie, think about it.  God is a jealous god. He wants us to rely on Him and remember He is Lord over our lives, our thoughts and our actions. A fortune-less cookie became a fortunate lesson for me. It was a reiteration that my Lord is all I need. Jesus told us not to be anxious about our futures but to seek first the righteousness of God. (Matthew 6)

Next time, I’ll pray for another empty cookie! I still like to eat them.

Question: What are you relying on instead of God’s Word?

By Julie Cosgrove

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About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me…My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.” Acts 22:6-11

My mother had the obnoxious habit of bursting into my room, throwing back the curtains, and flicking on the light as she sang-sung, “Rise and shine.” As a sleep-deprived teenager who preferred cave-like darkness, I’d groan, shove the pillow over my face, and mumble, “Go away.” That blast of light hurt my eyes. I needed time to adjust.

In Acts, Saul was blinded by a bright light. It was the beginning of his conversion experience. However, I think for most people, who have been living in darkness for a while, the outcome is not as positive. Christians who are filled with the Light of Truth, may not realize that they come on too strong. Our darkness-dwelling friends scrunch their spiritual eyes and mumble “Go away.” However, if we expose them to the love and light of Christ a little at a time, it just might open their eyes to His mercy and grace.

We should keep this in mind when it comes to our non-Christian family and acquaintances. Our concern for their eternal destination may spur a misguided urgency which might cause them to shun the Light instead of drawing near. The best way to lead someone to Christ may not be to blast it in their eyes, but to let it glow from within us through our acts and words. Let the Lord determine the wattage needed to illuminate their path. He, more than we, know how much adjustment each would-be believer needs before they choose to come into His brilliant presence.

Precious Lord, You are the Light of the world, and have given us the humbled privilege to help light others’ path to You. Keep us mindful that each must journey at their own pace. May we allow You to shine through at the rate You know their faith-eyes can handle instead of blasting them with our fervency. Amen.

Thought: The next time you wish to witness to a non-believer, pray first for the Lord to guide the amount and intensity of His Light He desires you to shine forth.

By Julie Cosgrove

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