BLAZING FIRE

Mini Devotion & Song Prayer

photo & text by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2022

BLAZING FIRE

As you contemplate the last actions of our Savior in the days before He was placed in the tomb, here is a song prayer (worship!) to Jesus for you: BLAZING FIRE. “No matter the cost. No matter the pain. Your eyes set like flint. For love and for healing to set captives free. Lamb of God! For Your kingdom is forever. You’re calling Your children.” (that’s us) “I see Your eyes blazing fire. It’s Your love never-ending…” Blessed Holy Thursday!

Song prayer: BLAZING FIRE

Here is the channel link to subscribe (more song prayers and podcasts are coming 🙂 ) 

sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. 501c3

www.elizabethfulgaro.com http://www.eaglesnestfoundation.com

#crucifixion #Jesusarmsopenedwide #eyessetlikeflint #forthejoy #Jesusforyou

Episode 13: SEEKING GOD

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayer: ALL ABOUT YOU

Here we are again considering one of those phrases you’ll hear in Christian circles, which does speak to one of God’s important promises, but can seem vague when you first hear the language. It goes roughly like this: seek God and He will be found by you!  But what does this mean anyway and to what is it relevant?

As with many phrases used by Christians with frequency, the exhortation to seek God is based on verses in the Bible. One of the sections often referred to is in the book of Jeremiah found in the Old Testament. Jeremiah was a prophet of God who lived about 600 years before the birth of Jesus. He was a Jew whom God called to serve Him by delivering His message to the Jewish population in Judah before they were overrun by Babylon and taken into captivity.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 expresses part of the message God had for Jeremiah to deliver to the Jews living in Judah at that time:

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.   Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

What an encouraging message! That God had specific plans for His people and that these plans were for good and not evil. Furthermore, if people called upon God and prayed to Him in earnestness, God would hear these prayers and answer. Further and pertinent to the current message, God would let Himself be found by those who sought Him with their whole hearts. This meant those who made getting to know God better their top priority. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

Christians believe that God’s Spirit caused the Bible to be written through the hands of multiple writers over generations of time.  This is one reason it is called the Word of God. It is God’s message. His words. All the pieces of it combined together are understood as His Word.

Christians search the Bible to learn what God says about Himself through His writers. One of the characteristics of God which pops up in in a few parts of the Bible’s overall message is that God is unchanging. Thus, what He promised the first listeners and how He was recorded to be with them, illustrates what we can expect from Him, too. This means though we have to be careful to look at the context surrounding Bible verses so as not to grossly misapply them, how God spoke to His original readers still contains a message for us today.  He still has plans for each one of us. There are additional Scripture which describe how He knew us before we were born and how He cares for us in such a way that He knows every hair on our heads. And not to worry because He is handling the things which generally consume our thoughts, but to seek Him first.

Initially, the idea to search for a God you cannot see with your eyes or meet face-to-face can seem difficult to comprehend. How is such an invisible, and thus, seemingly elusive Being to be found? Especially when He is spiritual and supernatural—or rather beyond what you can grasp in the ways to which you are accustomed?

The primary prerequisite to searching for God is to be interested enough to make it a priority to try to get to know Him. Obviously, you are not literally looking up and down streets and in physical buildings to find Him.  You are inquiring mentally with an objective to connect with Him spiritually. Of course, the spiritual realm is not the same as the physical. But even though before we get close to God, we tend to focus our attention almost exclusively on the physical realm, this physical realm which we are tempted to think is everything, cannot in fact be separated from the spiritual. The physical realm is infused with the spiritual, though many of us have been taught to live as if the spiritual did not exist.  God’s Word explains that the spiritual existed first and that everything physical came to be via the spiritual. Well, if God is Creator, then this makes sense!

To search for God is to confront and move through the idea that reality is more than can be sensed with five natural senses. To dare to call out mentally to Him in your thoughts and maybe even sometimes vocalize these, because you are hoping and even expecting this Being to hear you. An as yet unknown entity who promises to be there with you and for you, but whom you cannot touch in the regular way. 

As you seek Him, you become aware of different aspects of Him. There is even supernatural encounter. With every experiential and knowledge discovery of more different aspects of Him an awareness heightens. This Triune God—who is inexplicably three-Separate-Persons-in-One—the Father, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is not to be completely comprehended or apprehended. He is God. By definition, this means He does not fit into momentarily convenient, human constructed mental containers. He is beyond everything you can imagine. Yet, He is also the loving, perfect Parent and He longs for deepening relationship with you. He created you to have fellowship with you. To spend time together with you.

So, we hold onto these two opposite concepts simultaneously for they are both true. God is to be sought and found. He will help you find Him when you seek. But He is never to be fully known or understood. But you seek anyway. And honestly, isn’t the fact that He cannot be fully grasped also a comfort?  It means you get to be the child who is taken care of and spiritually well-fed by this supernatural, supreme Parent. Every moment of your life you get to rely on His own perfection instead of trying to depend on your own fallibility. Blessed!

The song, ALL ABOUT YOU, is a joyful burst of commitment to seek God and let Him have your life because you are beginning to know who He is. Listen once. Listen twice. Let the melody wash over you multiple times and see if the words are a prayer which fits where you are right now. You can find it on my YouTube channel, various streaming services or on CD.

Let’s finish with a few verses from the Bible: Isaiah 55:8-11

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

11 So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it

Until next time, I am praying for you. Listen to the song, ALL ABOUT YOU, and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

Episode 12: BEAUTIFUL

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayers: FATHER, JESUS, SPIRIT

You’re beautiful. No, really. You are. Ah…I can almost sense your guffaw through the virtual space between us. How can I say that? You may be wondering. Afterall, I don’t even know you. And even if we have been blessed to know each other more personally, you probably think I don’t realize that you aren’t as beautiful as I think. But that’s where you’re wrong. I know more than you expect. The reality is, you were born beautiful and have the potential every day of your life to become more so.

Think about it. How many people do you know who see their inherent God-given beauty and handsomeness? How many understand to value themselves the way God wants? The way He has always intended. Instead what buckets of time, money and brain-space are spent chasing the latest, supposedly greatest fickle fad.

It begs the question. Who made the rules? Who decided what is beauty and what is not? Why is it even important? Is our definition of beauty and emphasis on it even relevant to the innate, inherent value of every life and the work to which we are called for God? It is not.

The subliminal message and the sometimes-awful reality is that human beings value other human beings based on this subjective understanding of beauty which is not even constant. But this is where there is such freedom in following Jesus and looking to live God’s way—If you can be courageous and receive it.  Society may imply and people may even reject you based on looks. Based on artificial standards. And this hurts! But it doesn’t have to matter if you can let God grow you above and beyond this.

It doesn’t mean you stop personal hygiene or stop caring about taking care of yourself. But it frees us from the standards set by others and the fear of what if. (What if you don’t conform or look like they tell you that you are supposed to?) In current culture within the United States, to be loosed from these artificially imposed standards frees you to age in normally and naturally. You don’t have to stress about weight because what somebody else decided what it was acceptable to look like. Instead, you can be attentive to your health. You can make your concern taking care of your body so you can live as long as possible, in as good of a condition as possible. In this way, you are more mentally and physically ready and able to do what God has for you.  It frees you from current seemingly-unending, truly meaningless, mental noise. These energy-sucking thoughts mimic being important, but truly are not when life is considered from the reality of its true scope and significance.

Why is youth better? Why does a certain fashion matter? For what reason does make-up need to be worn and worried about? Because these are the pictures we see. It is what is put in front of us at all times. But who decided this? Consider that the motivation of those entities which promote the latest look, or to get rid of sagging skin, or to focus on losing the next ten pounds, or that if your teeth were whiter so you’ll be more acceptable, often focus on these externals so you will buy their product or service and keep on buying it.

Who and how does this help? Not much… For many of us, underneath our susceptibility to these ideas is a fear of rejection. We were created to need to be loved! We want to be acceptable. We want to be part of community. And there are nothing wrong with these desires! In fact, you are wired for them! But how much value really are relationships where they will reject you because of how they have decided you need to look? 

Obviously, in some fields of work there are uniforms. There are policies which humans have set. The point here is not to argue when to comply and when not to. The main emphasis is to consider that with God-seeking and God-following as your emphasis, you no longer have to spend the mental or emotional energy measuring up to a vague standard, which implies there’s something wrong with you, or that you are less or worth rejecting if you have sagging skin, are of a certain size, have less muscle, thin hair or less white teeth. In the God-designed truth of meaning, purpose and significance to living, where does this even fit in?

It doesn’t. It’s not where God places emphasis at all.

In one of the letters contained in the Bible which St. Paul wrote to the community of 1st century believers in Corinth, St. Paul gives us the true view, the Jesus-view of the essential value in community of every single person. St. Paul compares the community of which we are all a part to a body. God in control and in charge, so He is the Head. We are all the various parts.

For our Scripture, let’s read what St. Paul says about this together in his first letter to the community of believers at Corinth. So in 1 Corinthians. Chapter 12:1-27

1 1All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.

12 For just as the body is a unity and yet has many parts, and all the parts, though many, form [only] one body, so it is with Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

13 For by [[d]means of the personal agency of] one [Holy] Spirit we were all, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, baptized [and [e]by baptism united together] into one body, and all made to drink of one [Holy] Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one limb or organ but of many.

15 If the foot should say, Because I am not the hand, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?

16 If the ear should say, Because I am not the eye, I do not belong to the body, would it be therefore not [a part] of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where [would be the sense of] hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where [would be the sense of] smell?

18 But as it is, God has placed and arranged the limbs and organs in the body, each [particular one] of them, just as He wished and saw fit and with the best adaptation.

19 But if [the whole] were all a single organ, where would the body be?

20 And now there are [certainly] many limbs and organs, but a single body.

21 And the eye is not able to say to the hand, I have no need of you, nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

22 But instead, there is [absolute] necessity for the parts of the body that are considered the more weak.

23 And those [parts] of the body which we consider rather ignoble are [the very parts] which we invest with additional honor, and our unseemly parts and those unsuitable for exposure are treated with seemliness (modesty and decorum),

24 Which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so adjusted (mingled, harmonized, and subtly proportioned the parts of) the whole body, giving the greater honor and richer endowment to the inferior parts which lack [apparent importance],

25 So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another.

26 And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members [share in] the enjoyment of it.

27 Now you [collectively] are Christ’s body and [individually] you are members of it, each part severally and distinct [each with his own place and function].

Look at how amazing God’s way is! The parts of the body which society tends to honor less–to think about less—are actually the most valuable. (It’s the truth! Consider, who really thinks about the liver? Have you ever had anyone comment with awe and wonder about your intestines or say—oh wow, what an amazing pancreas you have?) Yet, these are the parts the body cannot live without! The least visible. The least praised and the most essential.

That’s how it is for us, too. Society will get it wrong. People are fickle. But you can live free of this because God doesn’t see things this way. It’s not how He made it to be. This does not mean to proceed with bitterness or resentfulness, but a growing confidence because you are increasing in your ability to rely on how God sees you (which is the truth!) and decreasing in your worry about what people think.

Beautiful. Handsome. Nebulous, confusing and changing concepts within human societies and cultures. Measures which are temporarily established and promoted as very important, but meaningless in the overriding essence of the truth of the meaning of life. Jesus understood. He knew. He didn’t care what people thought. He knew their hearts. He knew God’s and God’s priorities. That’s where He focused.

As God Seekers we are looking to become more like Jesus. You were made beautiful. You were made handsome. By God. According to His ultimate standards. It’s not about any particular external look but about the heart.  One last thought. Consider how it is when people get older. It seems as if it’s more difficult to hide how they are inside with the latest fad fashion look. When you meet an elder, you get a sense quickly whether they are kind or whether they are bitter. Whether you want to be around them or not. To this point, how many of us have elders in our lives who no longer fit society’s standard of beauty, yet because of who they are, how they are and how they treat us, we see them as some of the most beautiful and to-be cherished people of all.

Listen to the song,  FATHER, JESUS, SPIRIT. You can find it on my YouTube channel. Search under my  name, Elizabeth Fulgaro. It is also available on various streaming services and on CD.

Until next time, I am praying for you. Use the song, FATHER, JESUS, SPIRIT, as your prayer and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

MY ONE TRUE LOVE

Mini Devotion & Song Prayer

photo & text by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2022

MY ONE TRUE LOVE

Valentine’s Day. So its supposed to be about love. But our views of what love is tend to be so minimized from what God has in mind. He has so much more to teach you about love-true-love His way. He waits for you to take the time–spend the time–to wait on Him to show you. And as you do, He heals and softens your own heart more and gives you revelation, so that indeed, His Spirit can love more and better and more in Jesus’ way in you and through you. For the love of God Jesus demonstrated was not how we have made love to be. God’s love is not necessarily oo-ey, goo-ey or constantly soft and cuddly. In other words, God’s love (which is ultimate) is not a steady stream of flowers and chocolates! Understanding the love that God is and you are to become (destiny!) begins and continues by gazing at Him. Intentionally, constantly, investing time and effort to seek what He has to teach. Pressing in with what you know, and listening interiorly so He can impart more. Thus, for this February 14th, a new song from a new album. A love song to the One in whom all love-true-love is found and through whom love flows. May He lead you to that place in Him where His love spills in like an unstoppable, thirst-quenching waterfall and then overflows…..to you to the other to the next one, and on and on and on… God’s blessing on your day. Hope you will join me in praying this song, MY ONE TRUE LOVE

Song prayer: MY ONE TRUE LOVE  

Here is the channel link to subscribe (more song prayers and podcasts are coming 🙂 ) 

sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. 501c3

www.elizabethfulgaro.com http://www.eaglesnestfoundation.com

Episode 11: POWER

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayer: GIVE ME YOUR HEART

I sat that January afternoon in 2019 at the linen-covered table in the little apartment at the assisted living facility in one of Northern Germany’s major cities with two gracious, strong women whom I had known for over 40 years. The table was set with delicate white china decorated with fluting and flourishes of soft white flowers touched with pale greens and cream. The winter sunlight slanted low on the horizon through the 5th story window through a smattering of clouds. The rain which had been would return. This was Hamburg, Germany. Rain was common to its climate throughout the year and most definitely in winter months.

Our hostess poured the rich, thick coffee into waiting china teacups. Each of us selected from one of the luxurious cake slices brought from the bakery down the street. This was German coffee hour. A lovely late afternoon tradition of companionship, conversation, strong bitter coffee, an assortment of cakes.

I had come to this family for the first time in June 1976 as an American high school graduate to begin a year as foreign exchange student, excited to experience life in another country. To immerse myself in its people, language and culture. I came to what was then a divided Germany which had remained split into east and west with barbed wire and guard towers as a result of a power struggle at the end of World War II. My first experience with Afternoon coffee time was that first Sunday in Germany when Mutti, Vati (which is German for Mom and Dad) and their two grown children accompanied me to the grandmother’s home. She served home-baked shortcake with fresh strawberries and loads of whipped cream. I shoved large forkfuls of the fluffy sweetness into my mouth to drown out the taste of the coffee. It would be months of participating in coffee hour before I began to look forward to sipping the black stuff. Until it became a comfort food because of the good memories which went with it. But when I first arrived, the few words of German that I knew weren’t enough to politely decline the as-yet yucky seeming brew. 

Over the course of two years of living in Germany—once after high school and once after college—the language skills had come and now over 40 years later I have the extreme blessing of remaining close to all three different families in different parts of the country with whom I have lived. They are no longer faceless, obscure people over there, but family. Precious. Known. Treasured. Dear.

Now on this January afternoon, Mutti was in her early 90’s, living in an assisted living apartment. It was blessing to visit again. It would be our last. There at the table so beautifully set for coffee hour (which is also part of the tradition), we wiled away the afternoon hours, cherishing each other chatting about life, possibilities, current events and cheerful memories.

This Hamburg family for the most part did not share my faith in God. Oh, my Mutti had been raised going to church, but like many Western Europeans, what she had experienced of Christianity and the history of its societal impact especially in Europe over the centuries, made Christianity seem like a sham to her.  Not too long into adulthood, she had stopped attending church and had a measure of disdain for many pastors.  The seeking of money for their pastorates was a too frequent sermon topic. One more sign to her that the church—as it had become—didn’t have a lot in common with Jesus. 

The family was aware of what I believed and out of respect for one another, they allowed me to share as freely about my faith and how it impacted my daily life as they shared their frustration with it. Meanwhile, I trusted God to work on hearts (mine and theirs) through our conversations so that each of us received what was needed on our respective journeys of faith. In His timing and in His way. Whether I could see it or not.

I don’t remember the exact topic we were discussing that dusky January afternoon, but whatever the topic, it had caused me to mention God’s power. In a positive encouraging way. Of course, our conversation was exclusively in the German language. I used the German word, “Macht” to make my point, which was “the” German word I had heard used most often when talking about God as almighty and all-powerful.

However, Mutti and my beloved exchange sister, Iris, jumped on my words. It shifted the tenor of an otherwise gentile conversation. I was suddenly that young, ignorant American again. But they would help me learn. Well meaning! But definitely letting me know that perhaps there was more than I as yet understood. “Macht” said Mutti intently, denoted a power which was oppressive. Did I know that? It meant a domination of one group over another, my exchange sister, Iris, added.  They were very concerned about my use of Macht in a different light. Mutti reminded me how she had grown up under the Macht—the oppression–of Nazi Germany. She had experienced the war. She and her mother had fled their hometown to escape the Russians who invaded their region at the end and were known for raping local women. During their arduous journey to try to get to where the Americans were, Mutti had been shot in the head. There had been an emergency surgery in a military unit. She had survived. Mutti now moved the conversation to relay her deep concern for the rising neo-Nazi movements. Mutti and Iris now lectured me with urgency, fervency and simultaneous kindness about misuse of power through history, including through the church. Macht – power—was not good.

This twist in the conversation caused me pause. It was a wake-up call. I had used the word Macht properly. As a foreigner, I had to wonder about that at first. But Macht was proper word to speak of God’s power. However, I had never considered power much as a concept at all. I knew power could be and had been misused, but I don’t think I had grappled with the massive extent to which power had been and is still misused for the purpose of asserting control of one people group over another. I had not experienced the broad negative effect which power could be.

This then was the oxymoron. Mutti and my sister wanted me to understand that Macht was indeed a word for power, but that it was always oppressive. Power. One person or people group looking to dominate another. That is what Macht meant. But God’s power was not oppressive. It was not this. Ever. It was still Macht. It was still power. But His power was a different sort. And clearly, His power had not been represented accurately by any human person in history. Especially those who had chosen to exert this negative power in His name over the centuries.  Power God’s way looked like Jesus.

There was a type of power that was not oppressive, but was also power. In fact, it was superior. It was the only true power. Just elusive this side of heaven. This power was like God’s  Jesus power. Jesus’ power was not wimpy. He could raise the dead to life! He did not draw back from conflict. He spoke the truth to the Pharisees about their shallow excuse for the type of life to which God called. But Jesus’ almighty essence was different than human power structures which sought to conquer. Jesus’ power was over all, yet an expression of self-less love. Not selfish, self-focused domination. But like the kingdom Jesus talked about and showed us, His power was and remains, not of this world. Yet, a power which He wants to teach us so we can be a flow-through of this essential true, good, different God-power to others.

This January conversation with Mutti and Iris was the beginning of an ongoing personal search to continue to look at Jesus and learn from Him more about power His way. That’s the only type of power we want to flow through us. God’s way with Macht, which when experienced is life-giving, freedom-providing. The perfect, all-good, magnificent power of God’s love. We have a lot still to learn to treat people in this way. May God’s Spirit continue to lead us.

Listen to the song: GIVE ME YOUR HEART.  You can find it on my YouTube channel. It is also available on some streaming services and via CD. Let’s conclude with a Scripture from the book of the prophet Jeremiah who wrote down some of God’s messages to the people of his time. These messages are also for us.

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord appeared from of old to me [Israel], saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.

Until next time. I am praying for you. Let the song GIVE ME YOUR HEART become your prayer and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

Episode 10: NARROW PATH

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayer: BOWING NOW

When we seek for how we are to live our lives according to the culture of God’s kingdom as revealed by Jesus, we are looking for what He called the narrow path. The blessing and challenge is not that this path is constructed out of a list of rules, but that it represents a way of life which flows naturally from a different way of thinking. Yes, there is right and wrong, but its not about the seeming checklist that so many have made it to be for so long. It’s about the heart. It’s about care for people. Care for all people one for the other. Where no one is less.

The rules given by God were always about care of people. God is love. This is not a squishy-ewey-gooey emotional love the way humans have defined it, which waxes and wanes dependent on momentary feelings. It is about practical care in a manner that is not just focuses on self, but expanded with an objective to look beyond self for the good of community with self being an integral part. It is a choice to love even and perhaps especially through difficulties, which can also mean a need to wrestle through what true love looks like when issues are not simple (and most issues are not)

Thus, the narrow path includes the rules, but removes their seeming one-dimensionality.  Jesus nature, which is the manifestation—the made visible of—the kingdom of God on earth includes a different view of the meaning and purpose of life and what it’s all about than what human cultures have made it out to be. God’s kingdom is founded in a different sort of power structure than the one humans assert makes the difference and is to be striven for.

The narrow path actually isn’t narrow in terms of its scope—in terms of what it encompasses. It covers every aspect of life. Every thought. Every action and indeed every inaction. It is specifically  not a list of to-do‘s or to-don’ts. It is a philosophy of life which understands God is over all protecting, providing, leading and guiding. And that if we choose it, we are all m moving through one day—one moment—at a time toward that eternal destiny and companionship with God and one another for which He made us.  That is, if we choose to prioritize seeking and doing God’s plan for our lives versus fighting for our own. If we choose to see others and see them His way and be His instruments through which He flows to touch them in the way he knows they need most.  To be formed and re-formed by the hand of God, like a potter molds clay. Employed and deployed in ways where we won’t always understand.

Jesus walked the narrow path.  He pointed it out. He lived it. Let’s look at a sprinkling of verses from Matthew Chapter 5. Of what living according to His culture looks like, embracing a God-following way of life instead of doing and “don’t-ing” and pointing at the others, more than evaluating self. It is a way of life which will require His constant help, forgiveness, and help to try again.

Matthew 5:17-24, 43-48

17 Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them.

18 For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook [identifying certain Hebrew letters] will pass from the Law until all things [it foreshadows] are accomplished.

19 Whoever then breaks or does away with or relaxes one of the least [important] of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least [important] in the kingdom of heaven, but he who practices them and teaches others to do so shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 You have heard that it was said to the men of old, You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court.

22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall beliable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.

23 So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you,

24 Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift….

43 You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy;

44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?

47 And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?

48 You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Listen to the song: BOWING NOW and remember, I am praying for you. Until next time, make the song, BOWING NOW your prayer and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

Episode 9: THE NEW SUITCASE IS (NOT) TOO BIG

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayer: DON’T NEED TO SEE

(This post is a slightly edited version of my original version posted September 18, 2015. The story is significant enough that it has become a God Seeker Message episode. I hope you will listen as well as read it and let the message it offers go deep.)

It has been discussed in prior devotions and will likely come up many times again. Our Lord is in the small stuff. The King over all the universe and Creator of everything in it, who is greater than we can ever see or fathom is intensely involved in the details of our lives—even more so when we will let Him. Sometimes this is so evident we must share the story. It reveals the incredible, incomprehensible love of our God for all of us. We must share the God-stories so that He gets the credit and honor (the glory) He is due and so that through these others will be able to see His magnificence as well.

This is a story of the Lord’s perfect provision. It is shared—not because it is the only time He has provided in such wondrous ways or because it is better than how He may have provided for you (because it isn’t). But because it a resplendent example of the many times He is, well, just the way He is (supernaturally awesome)! Be prepared for a longer read than a traditional devotion. Since this is a God-story about how our Lord is in the details, the story has to—well—share these details.

This particular story seemed to begin with the arrival of the deep-blue-colored purse. I had ordered a style of purse that came in a variety of colors. I had ordered it in black because I wanted to use it for work. I opened the package excitedly when it arrived and saw indeed it was the right style and….it was blue! They had sent a deep-blue-colored purse when I had ordered a black one. Rats.

Or? It would not be the first time that the Lord arranged for a “mistake” to bring me what He knew I needed instead of what I thought I should have. I decided to keep the deep-blue-colored purse. Indeed, it seemed to work for what I needed almost as well as black. What a treat, since I am more a blue type of girl than one who goes for black anyway.

A few weeks later on August 19th, it was time for a 5-day trip which would take me to Denver, Colorado with our son while he moved into his dorm room at the college and then on to Spokane, Washington for my nephew’s wedding.   My husband had to work and so stayed home. I packed light and smiled when the Lord had me put dark blue satin shoes and a long dark blue silk duster jacket to go over a dress for the wedding. Aha! The purse went perfectly with this. There would only be one handbag on this trip because the one the Lord had provided (and I had not known I would need) would be perfect for every event and activity, including the wedding.

Everything I needed fit in the small black carry-on suitcase with plenty of room to spare. Our son and I drove to the airport for the flight to Denver Wednesday morning and we were off! Moving into his dorm went like clockwork Thursday. His time slot was from noon until 1pm. After errands to get most of the last items he needed (which were too cumbersome to buy ahead and bring on the plane flight) we arrived at 12:45pm, took loads up the three flights of stairs to his room and had him moved in by 1pm. Awesome! He had an orientation to attend. I noticed we had forgotten a pillow! I would run to the store one more time while he attended his mandatory meeting.

The Lord was nudging me and nudging me again. Our son had brought his belongings to college in two large suitcases. The Lord was prompting me to leave my small carry-on suitcase with him. He would need it for short-term trips, like coming home on breaks. Oh my. This was not the first time the Lord had had me give away something I liked. Actually, He did it pretty often. Part of this was that I was not supposed to be attached to things.

Yeah. I did like this small suitcase. I had bought it a number of years ago because it was just the right size with a seemingly ideal configuration for good use.

“Give it to him.”

I knew I needed to obey. I offered it to our son. He was ecstatic. The suitcase stayed. I left to run the final errands. The Lord put a particular department store in my mind which I had seen from the road as we ran other errands. That store should have a pillow for him and a new suitcase for me. I didn’t exactly know how to get the store but trusted the Lord. He led me directly to it via a backroad which ran parallel to the streets and freeway with which I was familiar. There was no need for a map or GPS.

The store was two stories. I had expected what I was looking for to be all upstairs, but it appeared the upstairs was not open. The escalators were blocked off and all which could be seen beyond them was construction. Wow, what a disappointment. I was so sure the Lord had pointed me to this store. Well, He must have had another reason. Maybe it was to use up time so I would arrive somewhere else in His perfect timing. He had done this before. I continued my second circle through all the downstairs departments just to make sure. Even if the upper floor were closed for now, I had expected to find the merchandise offered in another area. Nope.

As I circled round at a brisk pace, I kept my eyes open for a wrap, like a shawl or pashmina for the wedding. The weather report had just been updated to say it was expected to be a little cooler in the evening where the wedding and reception were being held. It would be outside. A wrap of some sort was recommended. This store had nothing appropriate.

Just before finishing my loop, an employee was suddenly in front of me leading another customer. She led her to an elevator hidden away in the last corner before the exit. When the customer entered the elevator, I entered with her. Aha! So, the second floor was open!

Upstairs was indeed everything I needed for our son and luggage. The Lord had been right to direct me here. (Duh!) I was looking for a small little carry-on suitcase. So, similar size to what I had had. For years that little suitcase had seemed just perfect! I wanted that same size.

My eye immediately fell on a deep purple set of luggage. I knew it was the Lord emphasizing these particular suitcases to me. I was to purchase from this set. I read all the labels and checked the sizes. I pulled all the hidden ones out from under the shelves. The smallest one in the set—the one I would want to purchase—was missing. They didn’t have it in stock.

Well, then, I must be hearing the Lord wrong. He couldn’t want me to buy from this set because there was no small one!

But I knew better than this. I knew His nudge. He was telling me to get the suitcase one size larger than I had had and wanted. This suitcase size would not be as flexible. I could not opt to check it or carry it on. It would have to be checked every time. It would not replace the suitcase I had left with our son in terms of its utility. Surely the Lord did not mean this suitcase. “Lord, it’s too big.” No answer. “Lord, this one is too big.” Silence and the ongoing firm nudge to take what He was providing. “Lord, I want to make sure I am hearing you correctly.” I walked around the entire luggage department asking Him maybe I was supposed to get any of the other carry-on suitcases. In my heart I already knew the answer, even though it did not make sense.   This matched prior experiences with my Lord, when He would have me purchase something, I did not know I needed—yet. The purchase would go against everything which made sense, yet I would do as I could sense Him nudging and receive a marvelous surprise at some future date.

I really did not want so large a suitcase…Oh, it wasn’t huge—only 24” versus 20”—but I did not want it. I wanted a carry-on! Even as I apologized to Him for not wanting what He was providing, I also reminded Him how much I had wanted a smaller one. Yeah…kind of a bad attitude.

There was not a lot of time before I was supposed to meet up with our son again. This was supposed to have been a swoop in, see what the Lord wanted me to get, and swoop, out sort of shopping spree. There was no time for browsing. I knew the Lord was always right! I was choosing to take too long.Hesitant. Ugh. A little defiant or rebellious. “Sorry, Lord. Sorry!” I didn’t like not just straight away obeying, but I really did not want to pay for the larger bag.

In the back corner of luggage as I asked Him over and over if this or that different suitcase could also be the one, He impressed on my mind strongly that He had already shown me what He wanted for me. He reminded me that we were wasting time because I already knew this and shouldn’t be asking Him if He meant something else. Ouch. Yup. Okay, then back to the purple suitcases I went. I walked around the collection and looked under the table where all the extra suitcases were one more time. Precious minutes were ticking passed. There was no 20” bag. I grabbed the 24” one from the collection which He had highlighted immediately as I approached the luggage department, thanked Him profusely in faith for His perfect choice for me and headed to pick up the pillow. Going through housewares on the way from luggage to bedding my eyes scanned that entire department, too. “Lord, You know I don’t have a wedding present yet. Lord, what do you want me to do about the wedding present for my nephew and his wonderful bride?” He did not highlight anything which was His plan for them.

Joseph and I said our final good-byes that afternoon. The next morning, I prepared to head to the Denver airport for my midday flight to Spokane, Washington. My too-large new purple suitcase was packed with the anticipated loads of room to spare. It was pretty! And oh, so big.

In recent years, often the gift the Lord has had me give newlyweds has been a small one piece Christmas Nativity. We received one when we wed in 1981 and it had been so wonderful to have some sort of nativity to set out until we had decided what we really wanted for ourselves (and could afford it). This was not usually something couples received in duplicate and it was a gift I enjoyed giving.

T-minus only a few hours until the plane departed Denver for Spokane. It was Friday and the wedding was the following day. “Lord? What do you want me to do about a wedding gift? Do you want me to try to find a place which has nativity sets on the way to the airport? I did not feel Him confirm this in my spirit when I asked.   Instead, I felt His inner nudge reminding me that I would have all Friday afternoon in Spokane. The only flight I had been able to book had me arriving much earlier than I would have preferred. “Ok, Lord, where shall I look in Spokane?” Once again, I felt His peace which surpasses all understanding surrounding the idea of a one-piece nativity. His nudge caused me to search for Catholic book and gift stores in Spokane. These stores often carried at least a few nativities year-round.

There were two which came up on my internet search. “Lord, which one?” I asked as my eyes scanned back and forth between each search entry waiting for Him to cause one to stand out over the other. Repeatedly and consistently, there indeed was one He seemed to be highlighting. Interiorly, it just felt right although there was nothing really on their website to make me think this store was more apt to have what I needed instead of the other. I looked it up on a Spokane map. Wow. This store was just a few blocks from the freeway and literally on my way to where I needed to go. I noted the business name and finished getting ready for the airport.

As it often does, time was slipping by more and more quickly. I loved arriving early! So often the Lord arranged my schedule so that my “early” didn’t happen and His “on-time” did instead.

“Lord, if I leave now I will be early and I can just relax at the airport and perhaps read my Bible or write a little on the book manuscript for you.”

However, His inner nudge in response was not to go straight to the airport. He was nudging me to go to a store for a pashmina shawl.

What?! “But, Lord?! Airplane flights don’t wait. I know You know that…but just saying….”

Yet, I already knew what I needed to do. I researched the particular department store He had brought to mind. Indeed, there was one not too far from me, but it was further away from the airport instead of closer. Well, He had never let me down when I obeyed. I would obey again—regardless of potential consequences—quite simply because above everything else I trusted Him. Over and over and over again He had shown Himself faithful. Wherever I thought He was leading, no matter how crazy it seemed, so long as it did not contradict His Word, I would obey. Okay then: on to the department store instead of the airport.

(It should be noted that I am not a big shopper. I purchase most of what I wear via the internet and enter shopping malls as infrequently as possible, usually one once or twice per year because I have to and not because I want to. So heading to a department store further away from the airport to shop for something which I was not sure I needed was not my idea of fun. I much rather would have set out for an early airport arrival. However, my Lord is NEVER wrong, and I will follow Him anywhere!)

Down one unfamiliar road, then another I went in search of the store which I thought He had pointed out. There was not much extra time to get this done. The rental car had to be returned, the shuttle taken to the airport terminal, my now larger purple suitcase checked, then through security, then riding the tram out to the terminal to the departure gates, then getting to the actual gate itself. This all would take time.

About two-thirds of the distance to the store where I thought I was headed, I saw another company’s department store on my left. It felt right. This was a way the Lord frequently communicated with me. He would get me headed in a direction He knew I would recognize and then show me what He actually wanted once I was on my way.

“Oh my goodness, Lord, is this what You meant?” It was a store with less expensive prices than where I thought I had been headed and I did not have to find the store, it was right there! Sensing His peace increase interiorly as confirmation that this was His intended destination, I did a U-turn at the next signal and drove into the parking lot.

I felt the urgency of the moment. No time to waste. No need to rush either. (Jesus never rushed anywhere.) However, I needed to be attentive to where He was leading and not meander. I walked into the store and immediately found a plethora of pashmina in almost every color of the rainbow. I asked the Lord if any were for me, and he highlighted several—one exactly the color I had thought He wanted for the wedding and another two for winter. All of the prices were reduced.

He had me walk by a rack of dresses which were on clearance. I felt His nudge to pause and look through what was offered. I have always loved dresses. Since I was a little girl, I have loved and frequently worn them. My eyes scanned the racks of dresses. He showed me which ones to pull out and consider. He had me purchase 4 (four!) new dresses along with the pashminas. There was not time to try any of them on. I was to trust Him that these were His choices for me.

Well then, so be it! Off to the airport we go! I smiled as I loaded the dresses and pashminas into the back of the car. Maybe this suitcase wasn’t too big after all. Am I surprised? No, not at all. Simply, completely blessed. Of course, I made it to the rental car drop off much faster than anticipated because He knew there would be less traffic than anticipated. Of course, the rental car shuttle was standing by as if waiting for me. Naturally, there was no line at baggage check-in and security was a breeze. The tram took much longer than expected to arrive and transport all of us to our departure terminals, but the timing was exactly perfect. I arrived at my gate, without stress, exactly as passengers were asked to line up to board. I had obeyed and now He took care of the rest. Isn’t He wonderful!!!!! Oh, yes, He is!!!!! Golly, how I LOVE His plans over my own!!! Every…. single….time!!!

The flight landed in Spokane on time. Rental cars were conveniently right outside the door. I got into the rental car and prepared to leave the airport for the hotel. Once again I felt the Lord’s nudge. Oh, my goodness, He still wanted me to head for the Catholic goods store to get a nativity for part of the wedding gift. Sigh…. Errands……I would so much rather just head for the hotel and a nap. And yet….His plans always ended up being extraordinarily (supernaturally) better than mine. To confirm that the store I thought He was highlighting was indeed His destination, I called the store to ensure they had nativities in stock. The woman who answered said interestingly this year she had ordered nativities for the store earlier than in prior years, so yes, she had a few in stock and on display. She believed one in particular would suit my needs.

I arrived at the store about 15 minutes later. Yes, she had a really beautiful miniature nativity which was perfect! And…the Lord had other reasons why He had brought me here. He is sooooo smart. He loves each one of us sooooo much that He would work through each of us to ensure the needs of each other are met. He is astounding! The way He works is stunning!

Soft Christmas music was playing in the background.   I had not taken note of it. The owner pointed it out. She said she had surprised herself by putting Christmas music on so early (after all it was just August). She actually had decided to change out the CD and put on something which was not Christmas. That’s when my phone call came and I asked about a Christmas nativity. She decided the Holy Spirit must have a reason and left the Christmas music on.

As she went into the backroom to find the box for the little nativity, I asked the Lord what else I was supposed to purchase. I knew He had other items for me there and He already had confirmed in my spirit that I was to bless this business by paying for additional items. My eyes scanned the store. “Lord, show me what else is here that I am supposed to purchase.” It was not a book on one of the shelves. It was not a music CD. “Lord? What is it? I know You are telling me there is something else here.”

I turned around and immediately my eye fell on two figurines on the shop counter near the cash register. Both of them were of warrior angels. One was full color of Michael the Archangel which was between 12” and 18” tall, with a wing span of 8” to 10”. As traditional, the adversary was under his foot and St. Michael’s sword was unsheathed and positioned to slay him. However, as I saw more infrequently, the adversary had a more human appearance instead of the traditional serpent representation. It almost gave me chills. I knew exactly for whom the Lord intended this statue. It was for a specific veteran.   The second figurine was bronze and also different than any I had ever seen. It was of Gabriel the Archangel also carrying a sword and suited in full warrior armor. This figurine was slightly smaller, perhaps 8” to 10” in stature and not nearly so broad in width. I had never experienced Gabriel as a warrior angel before. Of course, Gabriel was a warrior! All angels had this capacity. It was just a new view. The Holy Spirit instantly let me know I was to purchase this angel statue as well. I knew for whom He wanted it presented as a gift.

The owner returned from the backroom. I explained that I had a non-profit called Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support in the name of Christ to military, military families and veterans and that the Lord had pointed out I was to purchase these two archangel figurines to give to two particular veterans. These two individuals gave all they had daily to serve fellow veterans, helping them forward with their lives.

The owner’s eyes teared up. I inquired the reason. She explained that her husband was a Vietnam veteran who exactly at that time, in that moment, on that day was in crisis. There were things afoot which should help in the long-term, which should be good. And they were hard. She was in awe that the Lord would send me to her shop precisely now. To her my appearance in her shop represented hope—a confirming sign that God was in this (as she already believed He was)—but now He had sent a sign that He would handle this and they would come through it okay. She laughed that my name was Elizabeth, whose baby leapt in her womb at the visitation of her cousin Mary who was with Child with Jesus. The Lord had sent an “Elizabeth” to visit her.

To me this was also the reason for her selection of Christmas music. The birth of Christ represents the beginning of fulfillment of all that God had promised—that He would rescue His people from captivity and lead them home (to our eternal home as well as being with us here). Christmas was the promise the adversary would not, could not win. Amen to the prompt by the Holy Spirit for Christmas music to be playing in this shop on precisely this day!

The owner and I reveled in awe at the beauty and exquisite care of our Lord, who had caused me to not purchase the nativity for the wedding months in advance as I usually did. In this way, I needed to search for her shop and come at this exact moment. In addition, she not only had the perfect, blessed nativity for the wedding (because she had felt led to order early this year), she also had two items in stock which I knew were to bless these two veterans in California. Wow, God! Wow!!! Our Lord is always multi-tasking!

We prayed together for her husband and for her. She prayed for me. She gave me the nativity as a gift along with a frame-able piece of artwork depicting the Holy Family. I purchased the angels. Oh-so-carefully she packed the archangel figurines in layer after layer of bubble wrap. The boxes in which they had come were too large. The Lord nudged me bubble wrap would be sufficient to safely transport them so I knew it was.

We exchanged contact information. I assured her the prayers would continue and promised to send some of my worship CDs of original songs because there were particular songs on several which I knew were His plan for her and others which were for him for such a time as this. She set the bags with the ceramic angels oh-so-carefully in the rental car, we hugged and off I went to the hotel.

Only after I reached the hotel did I realize that in order to transport these rather large bubble-wrapped angels back to California they would have to fit –IN MY SUITCASE!

“Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! How AMAZING you are!!! The suitcase now with the dresses and pashminas I didn’t know I was going to have and these rather cumbersome gifts you have provided is not too large at all!!! It is just right!!! THANK YOU, LORD for Your perfect provision every single time!!!”

Addendum: Of course, it was all just right. He is God and LORD. His plans are always better than our own. All the items He had had me acquire fit into the larger suitcase perfectly. No surprise. In addition, He had prompted me to purchase dresses one size smaller than I had been wearing and not allowed me time to try them on, yet these too all fit. Perfectly. Not only that….instead of prompting me to wear what I had packed to the wedding, He had me wear one of the new dresses which happened to go with the light blue pashmina, which happened to match the shoes He had had me pack, which happened to match the purse. Yes, He alone is God and Lord. WE REJOICE!

Take a listen to the song DON’T NEED TO SEE. Especially if there are hard, stormy aspects of life right now, make the song your own and watch how God strengthens you from the inside out.  You can find the song DON’T NEED TO SEE on my YouTube channel—just search under my name, Elizabeth Fulgaro, on several streaming services and on CD. It’s part of the Even Now album.

Until next time, I am praying for you. Check out the song, DON’T NEED TO SEE, and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

Episode 8: YOU’RE IN THE BOAT

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayer: YOU’RE IN THE BOAT

In one of the well-known stories of Jesus, He and His disciples (the ones he is training) are in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee to get from one place to another. Now for those who are unfamiliar with it, the Sea of Galilee is no ordinary lake. It is not some small, insignificant puddle of water. The Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. In kilometers that’s 21 by 13.  It is about 33 miles around the Seas of Galilee, which translates into about 53 kilometers. It has an average depth of about 84 feet or 25 meters. And at its deepest point is about 141 feet deep.

The Sea of Galilee is also known for swift weather shifts which could cause it to become deadly. In this particular instance, that is what evidently happened. The crossing was going along seemingly smoothly. But then a storm came up. A dangerous storm. The waves became so great, that they were beginning to swamp the boat.  To the disciples—some of whom were very experienced on this broad lake as fishermen, the risk of capsize was very real. However, in the midst of this rolling and quaking Jesus was asleep.  He was undisturbed by the raging storm with its fiercely threatening waves so savagely whipped by the wind, which make it sound as if the boat is being tossed about like a brittle piece of balsam wood. Further Jesus was either completely unaware of the risk the storm posed, or He was unconcerned by it. Obviously as all-knowing God you have to presume, He knew there was a storm happening and it was dangerous, right?

But the storm was so rough, with Jesus continuing to sleep, the disciples began to wonder if maybe He didn’t know after all. Maybe as He slept, He was unaware. So the disciples woke Jesus up. Hey Jesus, we are all about to die. Did you want to maybe do something about this?

Jesus was not pleased that they woke Him. It’s not that He was bothered about having his nap disturbed. It’s what it told Him about His disciples. Did they really think He was unaware? Did they really think He did not have a plan? If so, then they didn’t really know Him at all. He didn’t take this personally. He knew how like children they were. But it was disappointing that after so long with Him, they still did not understand. It would take until the coming of the Holy Spirit to them after He died, rose and ascended back to His throne in heaven, for their eyes to be opened and fuller understanding to come.  For now, Jesus arose from His slumber and simply commanded the wind and waves to calm down. To be still. And they did. Jesus and his disciples continued on their way across the lake.

The song, YOU’RE IN THE BOAT, is a song prayer to God was written and recorded during 2019 and 2020. It was birthed out of a time in my own life where I was in one of those bad storms which happen where you aren’t really sure of the outcome. (And honestly, isn’t that like almost every storm.) So, YOU’RE IN THE BOAT is a January song. It helps you trust God in hard times. Its lyrics are applicable in times which to you might seem like relentless winter. When your circumstances might even look hopeless. When you are anxious, worried and maybe even a little bit afraid. It’s for times when you don’t intend to, but it’s like you’re holding your breath. You might even feel like screaming: God where are you? Don’t you see what’s happening? What are you going to do about this?

During my own particular life storm, I was before God all day ever day asking Him to help with the particular situation raging around us at the time. I was pretty proud of myself. (Pride is never a good thing before God.) I knew it was a storm. I was definitely unsure of the outcome. But remembering the Bible story of those disciples in the boat with Jesus, I knew I was not going to be like them. I wasn’t panicking. My faith was strong. I was praying fervently because that is what God asks of us. Prayer is talking with God. It is also partnering with Him to birth that which He has already planned in heaven into our lives on the earth. It is partnering like Jesus who we believe is in heaven now next to Father God, praying for each of us.

We are told in the Bible to pray without ceasing. And so there I was, praying. Reminding God of the situation we were in while simultaneously completely relying on Him for help.  Proudly. I was not like those disciples. I knew God was not unaware. I was not going to be afraid. I was not going to fearfully stress out and be tempted to try to arouse God to action before His appointed time. A time He already foreknew. That’s why Jesus had been able to sleep so peacefully during that storm on the Sea of Galilee. He already knew what He planned to do and when. He knew He had the power to accomplish it. He would handle it. No reason to worry at all!

Then one day as I prayed about our storm, it was as if I could sense the Lord smiling in amusement at my puffed out chest. Yes, I trusted Him, but how much? If I really trusted He was God and would take care of things, did I trust Him enough as if to come over to where He was resting and peacefully nap alongside Him? In the midst of the storm? To sleep restfully even though at that moment the storm was threatening to sink the boat we were in?

This impression from Him, humbled me. There was a deeper level of trust and He was calling me to it. So I tried. And tried again. Always asking Holy Spirit to help. And He began to kindly teach me this new level of trust where I was so peacefully confident in who He is, despite all storms, that I could go mostly undisturbed through my day, not focusing on the storm because I did know God knew. He was not unaware. And He would help and was helping, especially when I could not see.

Take a listen to the song YOU’RE IN THE BOAT. Especially if there are hard, stormy aspects of life right now, make the song your own and watch how God strengthens you from the inside out.  You can find the song YOU’RE IN THE BOAT on my YouTube channel—just search under my name, Elizabeth Fulgaro, on several streaming services and on CD. It’s part of the Even Now album.

Let’s conclude with the story of Jesus in the boat from the gospel of Mark in the Bible.

35 On that same day [when] evening had come, He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake]. 36 And leaving the throng, they took Him with them, [just] as He was, in the boat [in which He was sitting]. And other boats were with Him. 37 And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.  38 But He [Himself] was in the stern [of the boat], asleep on the [leather] cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we are perishing?

39 And He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Hush now! Be still (muzzled)! And the wind ceased (sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was [immediately] a great calm ([r]a perfect peacefulness). 40 He said to them, Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)? 41 And they were filled with great awe and [feared exceedingly and said one to another, Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?   Mark 4:35-41

Until next time, I am praying for you. Check out the song, YOU’RE IN THE BOAT, and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

Episode 7: PEACE IN THE STORM

GOD SEEKER MESSAGES with Elizabeth Fulgaro copyright 2022

 Text to accompany the podcast episode. Listen on YouTube or various other podcast services.

Song prayer: YOU’RE IN THE BOAT

One of the promises that comes along with the choice to believe in God and follow Him is the idea that He will give you inner peace. By that is not meant some peace you will yourself to have, but an inner peace supplied by God in a supernatural way. One of the Bible verses which points to this is where St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4:7:

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Inner peace is a sought-after commodity. It can be difficult to find in our uncertain lifetimes. Life has always been uncertain and this can be a natural source of impactful anxiety and worry, which are the opposite of inner peace. As a human being with limited foresight, you cannot know the future. You cannot know what problems will come. You cannot figure out how you will get through these or know what will have happened to you and those you love between now and the time the problems resolve. Peace. Peace in life’s storms. This is one of God’s promises to those whose heart is to try to follow where He leads. What is this peace like and how do you get it?

Peace from God is not something you decide to have. It is not self-willed. Peace from God is one of His gifts, especially in life’s storms. Let’s take a look at the Scripture again in Philippians 4:7.  In fact, let’s read the verses around it, so we understand a little more what St. Paul is trying to teach is readers about God. Let’s listen for God’s message in Philippians, chapter 4, verses 4 through 9.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon]. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

Therefore, peace is not a decision on your part but an outcome of looking at God and trusting Him. It comes from relying on Him and trusting in His plan. It comes from knowing that no matter what your circumstances, God is working His eternal purposes for you, but also all of humanity through these. That He is with you in suffering. That He will not let any of your suffering go to waste. And that by keeping your thoughts on Him, it will help you stand unwavering, solid and firm in life’s storms.

There are also passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 where Jesus is referred to the Rock:

There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides You; there is no Rock like our God.

This means God is solid. If you rely on Him, you will not be shaken and destroyed by any earthquake. If it seems like there is quicksand all around, you will not sink. If you build your life upon who He says He is and what He promises, then your life won’t come crashing down in the storms. The truth of God is constant. His way and purposes unchanging. The storms will come, but you will not be destroyed by them.

If the peace of God is not something you decide to have, neither is it something which accompanies your own well-thought-out plans. It is also not yours if you are in His will but resenting or resisting it as you obey. The peace of God can come when you decide the will of God is the only certain place and the only good place. It is when you abandon yourself to God no matter what is going on. When you surrender yourself to His timing and plan. When those words are uttered and you mean them, like Mary did at the conception of Christ: Lord, not my will but Yours.

The words from Paul in Philippians help us understand how to ready our hearts to receive this peace. Be in the moment. Focus on listening for what Holy Spirit wants you to do or not do now. Be mindful of your thoughts. It is just as easy to think about the good as to worry about the bad and much more productive and healthful for you.

To trust in God is the opposite of fear. To trust in God is to rely on Him even though He definitely does not guarantee your hoped-for results but His. It is certain there will be pain, sorrow, disappointment and unjust treatment, but there will also be God. When we choose to let go of all to which we desperately cling, be in the moment with God, rejoicing in His overriding purposes and seeing to walk out His will for this moment, then His peace is there. It floods in. It wells up from inside.

The song prayer, You’re In The Boat is about trusting God in a deeper way. Take a listen. Let the words and melody wash over you until they become a prayer you are offering to God. In faith, trust, hope…and love. You can find the song, You’re In The Boat on my Youtube channel. It is also available on some streaming services and always on CD.

Let’s conclude with a Scripture, a verse from the Bible:

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Isa. 26:3)

Until next time, I am praying for you. Listen to the song, You’re In The Boat and keep seeking God.

God Seeker Message episodes are sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. (501c3)

www.elizabethfulgaro.com

www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

IN YOUR CLOUDS

Mini Devotion & Song Prayer

photo & text by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2022

Sometimes I have to pause and contemplate reality (Will you join me??):
IN YOUR CLOUDS 

The date I finally recorded the lead vocals and therewith finalized the lyrics to this song was less than 48 hours after my father’s death in 2016. He had been unwell for sometime and the Lord saw fit to transfer him home. Our hearts were grief-stricken with the loss of his presence tangibly with us. Singing these lyrics into the microphone as prayer gave me a sense of connection with God and my father in the place he now is. In other words, a connection with the very real continuity of life and the purpose and destination for all of us who choose to be followers of God–never perfectly, but with heart. Thus, when I pray with this song, it connect me with the fullness of reality. How about you?

Song prayer: IN YOUR CLOUDS  

Here is the channel link to subscribe (more song prayers and podcasts are coming 🙂 ) 

sponsored by Eagles Nest Foundation, Inc. 501c3

www.elizabethfulgaro.com http://www.eaglesnestfoundation.com