Sunday, July 9, 2017

Too Much

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

I have been thinking about a conversation my Mom and I would have when I was a teenager while driving by huge houses near the mall.  I would make a comment about such a pretty house and how l liked such their long driveway and rolling yard. My mom would make a comment such as "Such a big house would take a lot of work to clean" or she would say, "Imagine how hard it would be to mow that yard."  One benefit of these conversations was that I learned not to want what other people had because I didn't want their responsibilities. As a teenager, cleaning my room was a huge task, I couldn't imagine being responsible for a mansion. This perspective helped me be content with our much smaller house and big enough yard.  

However, I have realized applying this same logic to spiritual things has limited my view of God's ability to provide. I was afraid of too much. You see if God provides the big house with the big yard, He will also provide the ability to clean it or the resources to have someone do the yard maintenance because He has unlimited resources. If He allows you to have a huge family, when you ask Him for help, He will provide the wisdom, strength and endurance you need because He is the perfect Father. If He calls you to a position of influence, He will enable you because . He is the Lord and Ruler of all. Nothing is too hard for Him.  

Focusing on our resources and ability limits what God wants to bless us and bless others.  A big part of growing in our relationship with God involves being obedient by getting in situations that are over our head and beyond our ability so that we ask Him to provide.   

When faced with a hungry crowd of 5,000 people, Jesus told his disciples, "You feed them."  Jesus knew they didn't have the resources. In fact, after scrounging among themselves, they only had five loaves of bread and two fish. He challenged them to feed the people because He wanted to reveal his ability and resources to them- not because He expected them to provide the food. Jesus then blessed the food.  This blessing asked God to make it greater than what was there, just as Isaac made prophetic blessings for his sons and Jacob blessed  Joseph's sons. Asking for God's blessing on our day, our resources, our words, our work and our families unleashes God's power to take what we have and make it greater than what we could imagine.  The story of feeding the five thousand is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Interestingly, a couple of verses after this miracle in Mark 6 is the amazing story of Jesus walking on water. "But when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out,for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid. And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.The Gospel writers wanted to make sure we knew and understood the importance of this story. God's ability is not limited by our resources, faith, or understanding.  

We can't walk on water of our own strength, we can't feed five thousand with a couple of fish and five loaves of bread, we can't heal people who are chronically ill. We can't even introduce them to Jesus without the power of the Holy Spirit.   

Growing in our faith means we will be challenged by Jesus to "Feed them."  I often respond like the disciples and focus on my resources rather than obediently using what God has given to me and trusting it will be enough.  In the end, God did use the disciples to feed the 5000.  God provided the food and they simply handed it out- we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

For many of my friends, sharing the good news of Jesus with others seems impossible. They wonder if they will have the right words and are afraid that they might do it wrong. Ask Him to help you, He knows their hearts and hurts.  He will give you the words. He is the Word.

I understand feeling inadequate. When I felt called to write my Hezekiah study, I truly felt like I only had enough insight to write a blog.  Maybe a couple of hundred words but once I finished that I felt God say "Write more." So I did. Before I knew it, with God's help, I had a nine chapter Bible Study completed.  God supplied the time, the words and the wisdom. As Paul wrote in  Philippians 4:19, "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus."

What has God called you to do that you don't have the resources for?  What is holding you back?

I love to hear stories of God's provision, in the comments share a story of how God provided when you trusted God to bless your limited resources and stepped out in faith.




Saturday, July 1, 2017

Curse God and Die

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” Job 2:9



Job is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. He is one of the most righteous people of all time, yet he was horribly afflicted by Satan.  In fact, God gave Satan permission to attack Job and the first thing that Satan took away was his wealth. Successive attacks meant that his cattle, sheep, camels and all of his servants were destroyed. This was just the beginning.  The devastation continued when his ten children were killed when the building they were in collapsed.  To me, this would be an attack on my greatest blessing. I truly don't know how I would respond.  

Job's response to losing his kids is powerful. He was devastated.   He shaved his head and tore his clothes in mourning, yet he profoundly exclaimed, "And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Job 1:21   Wow!   I can't imagine.  Job blessed the name of the Lord even as He knew that the Lord could have prevented the heartbreak and loss that he was experiencing.  

This wasn't the response that his adversary Satan expected so he continued his attack on Job.  Satan doesn't play fair.  He also didn't stop his attack after taking Job's kids and his wealth, he also removed his health.  Here's the Message version of Job 2:7-8 "Satan left God and struck Job with terrible sores. Job was ulcers and scabs from head to foot. They itched and oozed so badly that he took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself, then went and sat on a trash heap, among the ashes."

Job's wife had finally had enough. She knew her husband was a person of integrity.  She knew that her husband had prayed and sacrificed to God by interceding for their children every day.  She was in mourning for their kids just like he was.  She had lost her financial security.  Her world was falling apart and finally she had enough. So she said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”  

The Hebrew root of the word translated "Curse" in this verse is actually "bless" - in fact the verse more literally says, “Bless not God and die."   As I was looking up all the times the word Bless is used in the Old Testament- this one struck me, Job lived such a life of blessing that simply “not blessing” God would be revolutionary for him.   Even after his children all tragically died, yet he still blessed the name of the Lord.  I have been challenged by this conversation to make blessing the Lord such an intricate part of my life that for me to not bless would be so out of character, that it would be equivalent to cursing.

In response to his wife’s admonishment to not bless God, Job reminded her and us that if we are to accept the good from God's hand we must also accept the bad.  Life does not always seem fair.   When I was about five years old, I complained to my mom, “That’s not fair.”  Her reply was, “It’s as fair as pork chops.”  She explained that life is not fair, just as it is not fair to the pig that becomes a pork chop. Even at five years old, I wanted life to be fair. 
Job was righteous and hadn’t done anything to deserve the tragedy that his life had become.  Three “friends” even tried to convince him that he must have sinned or done something wrong to deserve the suffering.   They wanted his suffering to be “fair,” consequences for his sins. Sometimes we are reaping the consequences of our foolish and sinful choices or we are suffering as a result of another’s sin that affects us.     

I think we all are like Job’s friends and we want life to be fair.  Job’s story teaches us that at any given time, life isn’t fair. In fact, Job suffered because of his righteousness.  1 Peter 3:13-17  summarizes how this relates to us, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.”

Job’s story has a happy ending.  He wa blessed with ten children, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren to the fourth generation.  His wealth was far beyond what he previously had.  His ability to bless God at all times, allowed him to experience the presence and voice of God in the midst of the whirlwind.   Job summarizes all that he has gone through, by saying, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5 Sometimes the greatest blessing in the midst of our greatest heartbreak is to experience the peace and presence of God in the midst of the storm.

How have you experienced the presence and voice of God in the midst of suffering?


I want every part of my life to bless God so much that not blessing would be totally out of character.  Psalm 43:1 (KJV) says “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”   Have you found a way that blessing God at all times becomes like breathing?   

Sunday, June 18, 2017

#PraiseGod


 Bless the LORD, 
O my soul,and forget not all his benefits,
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
Psalm 103:2,13


A friend recently received the great news that a spot on her thyroid was benign. At the end of her Facebook post, she added the hashtag #PraiseGod.   One of the neat things about hashtags is that you can search all the references with the same tag.   I loved the idea of grouping my activities under "Praise God" tag. 

I have been studying "blessings" in the Bible. I noticed that the Hebrew word that means “bless” was often translated "praise" in the NIV while the same word is translated "bless" in the KJV and ESV .    

Here’s an example from Psalm 103.  This is a beautiful Psalm that starts in verses 1&2 with praising and blessing God, the next 18 verses remind us why we should praise and bless him.  The chapter wraps up in verses 20-22 with the reminder that all of the creation should praise and bless him.  

Here are some verses to illustrate this. 


Psalm 103:1-5 (ESV)
Of David.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. 
  
Here is the NIV version. Psa 103:1-5
Of David. Praise the LORD, my soul; 
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins 
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit 
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things 
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I love the idea that when we praise God- we are blessing God.  Everything we have is a gift from God, so to bless Him back all we have to do is acknowledge the gifts and blessings that He has given us.  

This Psalm is a beautiful reminder us of the many blessings we have; God's love for us reaches to the heavens (vs 11), God has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west (vs 12), and the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him as a father shows compassion to his children. (vs 13.) 

Psalm   103:20-22 wraps up with this reminder-
"Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word.
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!"

Take a minute to bless the Lord and praise Him for the great things he has done.  He is worthy of your praise. #PraiseGod

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How Do You Love God?


How do we love God? In my previous blog, I wrote about loving God through obedience and worship: since then, I've been pondering the refrain from a popular song, "What is love".   As the refrain went over and over in my mind- I thought about applying a well known passage of scripture about love to loving God. 

            If I love God- I will be patient when things don’t happen when I want them to. I will trust His timing and His understanding of things that are outside my knowledge and experience.
           If I love God- I will be kind in my words and heart toward Him, His creation and His glory.  If it is not kind, I will not say it about myself or others.  I will not think unkind thoughts about my attributes or the way He has created someone because all people are created in His image.
          If I love God, I will not be envious of the gifts that He has given others, I will not wonder if He loves them more or doubt His goodness to me, my family members and friends.  
          If I love God, I will not boast or take glory in the things I own, have accomplished or achieved because everything I have – every relationship, experience, ability, opportunity, and asset is His. I have been entrusted with my kids, finances, writing ability, health, friends and everything else that I might boast about. I am like a steward was given five talents of gold and trusted to use it as the Master would have invested it.
          If I love God, I will not be arrogant in my interactions with His Word and His commands.  He is God and I am not- Why would I think it would be okay to ignore or make up what I believe rather than obeying what He says?
         If I love God, I will not be rude and act in an unbecoming way toward God and others that dishonors Him and His name, that treats Him and His Creation with disrespect.
         If I love God, I will not insist on my own way. I will trust that the Creator of this Universe and every cell in my body has a plan that is better than my short sighted and selfish plan. I will trust that God‘s way is better even if it doesn’t make sense to me.
         If I love God, I will not irritable or resentful when things don’t go my way, when He blesses other people and I seem to be suffering, when He takes forever to change horrible situations, when He seems to ignore injustice.
         If I love God, I will not rejoice at wrongdoing or getting away with something.  I will trust that He is not rejoicing at the wrong doing in our world but that His heart breaks for the sin and suffering that covers every inch of our world.
        If I love God, I will rejoice with the truth. I will take great joy in sharing the amazing Truth of Jesus Christ and rejoice as others share the truth.  I will trust that God is true and faithful, that He will do what He says, I will experience joy over and over as truth is experienced in every part of my life.
         If I love God, I will see how His Love bears all things, there was nothing that was too much for Him.  I will have confidence that His grace is sufficient in my weakness. He can carry every burden.
        If I love God, I will believe all of His Words and act on them. "All things are possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23 
        If I love God, my hope will be in Him -  I will not put my hope in people, in the government, money or even myself.
        If I love God, I will see how much He endured for me and for every other person in the world. His love is steadfast and unfailing. It is dependable and strong.
       If I love God, my love for Him will never end.  It will not be contingent on what He does for me, my attitude, other people’s foolishness and I will trust that because His Love never ends, I will be with Him in eternity, embraced in the purest, Most Perfect Love for all eternity.

Let me know how you would rewrite this passage to show your love for God in the comments-  I can't wait to read it.  Thanks for sharing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7



Saturday, June 3, 2017

You are Invited!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. Romans 8:38 NLT


Recently, I had a few minutes to catch up with one of my most out-going friends. She fits the definition of extrovert. She's a super fun, welcoming and always thoughtful.  One thing I really admire about her is she never leaves anyone out.  When she hosts a party, she will invite everyone she knows to a party just so that no one feels excluded. As she shared her Catholic, Baptist and Non-denominational family history, I realized as I was talking with her that she mostly viewed religion as something that divides people and she didn't want to pick sides.  Choosing a religion meant that someone would be left out, kinda like hosting a party and excluding some people or in an even worse scenario,like choosing which parent to live with after a divorce. 

As I thought about her perspective, it reminded me of a chart my sister sent me a chart from Pew Research that showed people who identified religiously as "none" is a growing demographic. 
If inclusiveness is a goal of our society - why would one chose to exclude others just for their belief?  After talking to my friend, I realized that choosing "None" as your religious affiliation may be about not wanting to exclude anyone and avoiding conflict.  Religious beliefs, often, have this sense that "my way is best" which has led to horrible atrocities through history.  It is obvious that choosing a religion can lead to persecution- there have been horrible murders of Coptic Christians in Egypt including bombing of churches on Palm Sunday, on-going conflict in the Middle East boils down to a religious battle between Sunni's and Shiite Muslims, 276 Christian girls were kidnapped from their school by Muslim extremists in Nigeria, and students of history are appalled at the millions of people killed during the Holocaust just because they were Jewish. Why would anyone chose a religion?  Horrible situations like these show that choosing "none" can make a lot of sense; while you are not in the "Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Baptist, Sunni or Shiite Muslim club," you are also not alienating anyone and you are not being judged by the antics and failings of anyone else in the "club" either. 

So then why would anyone choose to believe in Jesus?  One of the key characteristics of Christianity is free will.  No one is born a Christian. Every person has the choice to choose to follow Jesus.  In contrast, people are born Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist.  I am not saying that you can't become any of these religions even if you aren't born one or leave those religions as an adult, just that no one is born a Christian. You may even be born into a Christian family but that doesn't make you a Christian. Every one of us has to make our own choice to believe.   

Over the years, I have answered the question, "Why believe in Jesus? for myself and others in different ways. In my youth, it boiled down to basic math. Believing in Jesus = eternal life, Choosing not to believe in Jesus = eternal hell. I was basically playing the odds.  As I explained to my 5th grade Hindu friend Indira, "What do you have to lose by believing in Jesus? If you are right, we will all be reincarnated and get another chance. If I am right, I'll go to heaven and you won't. Why risk it?"  

As I have gotten older, my view has morphed into being less about heaven and hell and more about living the abundant life here and now, as I wrote about in my blog Know Jesus Know Peace.  Accepting Jesus means greater purpose and understanding of our value.  So many people are searching for more. They desperately seek to find peace and contentment. They are overwhelmed and really struggling.  My heart's desire for everyone is not to just join the "Christian club" but to personally know Jesus.  Rather than identifying with a religion, I want them to know that they are deeply and passionately loved, that there is nothing they could do that could ever earn God's love and nothing they could do that could separate them from God's love.  

Have you ever gotten an evite to an event where the guest list is hidden? They always make me a little skeptical. It is way more fun to accept an invitation when you realize your best friends will all be at the party. While religion can have an "us versus them" perspective, Jesus has issued an invitation to the whole world, he doesn't want to exclude anyone, all you have to do is click accept. Here's how the writer Paul explains accepting the invite, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9  I have accepted the invite, I can't wait to see you there too! 

How would you answer the question, "Why do you believe in Jesus?" or "Why don't you believe in Jesus?" Take a minute to share your thoughts.  Thanks.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Flipping the Switch to Love

 "And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil." Deuteronomy 11:13-14

I love predictable outcomes.  I appreciate that when I press a button on a tv remote control, I will get to watch the show I want. I am so grateful every time I push the start button on my dishwasher to begin the amazing transformation of dirty to sparkling clean. Flipping a switch to turn on a light is just brilliant.  Dependable wifi makes almost everything, including this blog post, so much easier.   I have recently realized that my desire for things being predictable strongly influenced my relationship with God.  Just like flipping a light switch, I read the Bible to figure out how to get what I wanted and needed from God.   

My desire for predictability lead me to passages such as those in Deuteronomy that basically said, "If I obey God He would bless me." Here's an example from Deuteronomy 28:2 "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.5Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out." (emphasis mine)  

I wanted blessing so I decided I needed to flip the switch by obeying.  As a logical person, this made perfect sense.  This goes back to learning "if then" theorems in geometry. If I am obedient, then God would bless me.

I memorized scriptures like 1 Samuel 15:22 "But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.""  

These scriptures convinced me if I obeyed, I would be blessed and I wouldn't have to make sacrifices.  It was just what I was looking for to meet my need for predictability.   It really was a win/win. God got obedience and I got blessings.  

Going down the path of predictable obedience can lead to legalism- when people begin to worship the laws as the source of blessing rather than the Law Giver- and I thought I was doing pretty good at avoiding legalism until I got into a conversation with my friend April.  She is a vegetarian and after talking to her about her love of animals, I was a little worried she might have let her love of animals go too far.    As she shared with me her heart for all creation as evidence of God's love, I realized that she had chosen to live every part of her life in worship and adoration of the Creator.  She would exercise by kayaking mountain lakes to worship God and marvel at the beauty all around her, she writes poetry to put into words her adoration of God, she leads music so that others join her in worshiping God and what she eats or doesn't eat was also her act of worship. 

After talking with her, I realized that I don't exercise out of love and adoration for my Creator but out of obedience to be a good steward of my body. Even what I eat is motivated by obedience not by love.  Many years ago, I was obedient when I felt God called me to give up milk for Lent and as a result, I was miraculously healed from arthritis.Truth is I loved ice cream and cheese but I was obedient because I wanted the blessing.  I give our tithe out of obedience not because I am motivated by a passionate love for supporting the church and its ministries.  Obedience leads to blessing because if then statements based on God's Word are true, as a result,  I have been spared much heart break and blessed with countless blessings because of my obedience.

There is no doubt that obedience for the sake of obedience alone leads to blessings but after talking to April, I realized that I have missed fully enjoying the blessings of obedience because I saw everything as a task rather than an act of love.  While I love God and am certain He loves me, worship and adoration of my Creator weren't my motivation. 

Going beyond obedience to adoration is so important that when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He said "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27. 

Jesus was paraphrasing the Deuteronomy 11:13-14 "And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil."   Focusing on the phrase "obey my commandments"  meant the people of Jesus' time studied hundreds of commandments and laws but they had missed that they were supposed to love the Lord with all their heart and soul. 

I have realized that basing my actions in love even translates into my relationship with my family.  When I cook dinner I have a choice to decide, "Am I doing this as a duty or as an act of love," when I kiss my husband, is it a duty or an act of love, when I buy a birthday present, am I doing it as an act of love, what about when I unload the dishwasher or take out the trash?   If thinking this way can transform the most mundane parts of my life, how much more revolutionary will it be in my relationship with God? 

I have to admit -I am still trying to figure this out.  This is pretty revolutionary for me so I would love to get your perspective.  How do you live every part of your life in adoration of God? How do you let your love of God allow you to experience life beyond predictability?   Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

God's Story Over Time

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23  NLT

I have to admit- I love a good story.  Over the past couple of days, I have heard some great stories that illustrate that one of my favorite verses, "The steps of a man are established by the Lord and he delights in his way." Psalm 37:23

My husband's friend, who is in the telecom industry, told an amazing story about being part of the Amazon Kindle 2's launch team. He was responsible for making sure readers could download books without a wifi connection.  The important part of his story wasn't the technological prowess required to accomplish this feat but how God brought the team together.   You see, 15 years before the Kindle's launch, he and a couple of other guys were working as consultants on bank mergers.  They were working 70 hours a week in the very small town of Rocky Mount, NC.  As their consulting days came to an end, the guys all went in separate directions.  Our friend went into telecom, one joined a design firm and the other headed to the west coast.   They never imagined they would work together again.  Yet as the Kindle 2 was being launched, they found themselves reunited on a conference call.  The friendship they had developed over 15 years before meant that trust and commitment were already in place.  They pooled their resources and experience to finish the technological part and then God opened the door for the Kindle 2 to be tried by Oprah's book club.   As they say, the rest is history!

I don't have high tech stories that involve Oprah but I can see just as clearly how God has brought people into my life long ago as a gift that still blesses me today.  My first blog post tells the story of my book proposal being read by a top Christian editor.  Truly God directed my path. 

 This week I was so blessed to hear best-selling author and speaker Renee Swope share about her journey from doubt to confidence.  I was excited to hear her speak because 20 years ago, my future husband and I were in a Crown Ministries Bible Study with her husband and her.  Our group of 6 couples were seeking to know God's Word and how it applied in our lives. Renee was just starting to help out with a newsletter for an organization called Proverbs 31.  I remember visiting her house as she was stapling the newsletters and getting them ready to be mailed. Over the past 20 years, God has blessed hundreds of thousands of women because she was willing to serve him.  I looked back on our prayer log at that time and saw that she was pregnant with her youngest son.  A highlight of hearing her speak, was meeting this great young man at her book table.  In the few minutes we talked at her book table, they shared a bit of his story. The transformation God had made in his heart was evident and I couldn't help but marvel at seeing the fruit of prayers our group had prayed for him even before he was born. You never know how one prayer, one word of encouragement or your willingness to help a friend with a newsletter will bless someone else.

Many years ago, I read a book that examined Christianity, Judaism and Islam from an analytical and comparative perspective.  The author pointed out that both Christianity and Judaism are based in history. You can use outside historical documents to verify the rules of  Caesar Augustus, King Herod, Hezekiah, Sennacherib and King Solomon, and Pharaoh. What is unique about the Bible is that tells the story of God's intervention and role directing the steps of his chosen people Israel and even those who don't honor him like Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar and Sennacherib in the context of time and history.  

One of my favorite Bible stories that show how God prepares us for what is to come in the future is the story of David.  David was secretly anointed by the priest Samuel to be the next king of Israel though he was still very young. His shepherding life didn't change until his dad sent him to take food to his older brothers on the battlefield. After he volunteered to fight the giant Goliath and defeated him, King Saul asked David to live with him.  God used this time in Saul's household to prepare him to be the future king of Israel.   Soon after this, Saul tried to kill David and sent him into exile.  David's path wasn't easy but God used it to hone his leadership skills, teach him to depend on him and develop patience and trust. Even as Saul's men were waiting to kill him, David wrote, 
"But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;for you are my fortress,    my refuge in times of trouble.You are my strength, I sing praise to you;    you, God, are my fortress  my God on whom I can rely.Psalm 59:16 &17

God prepared, protected him and directed David 's path.  Looking back on his life David wrote in Psalm 37:34 "Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
    and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
    you will look on when the wicked are cut off."

God delights in every detail of our lives.  He will orchestrate events and experiences that prepare us for us for what is to come in the future. God takes an eternal perspective and sometimes we don't understand how being a shepherd, defeating a giant and running for our lives could be His plan, yet as an old man, David confidently wrote in Psalm 37:3-6 
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
   your vindication like the noonday sun.

If you are in a hard time or if you feel like you aren't doing what God called and anointed you to do- hold on.  Wait for the Lord, Trust in the Lord, and Take Delight in the Lord as you continue to do good and commit everything you do to Him.  Over time He will reward you and vindicate you.  

Hearing stories of God's hand of preparation and blessing over time is so encouraging to me.  How have you seen God work over time in your life?