God’s Incredible Plan Includes Your Ordinary Days

The Dothan Valley shows how our God wastes no experience in our lives.

Sometimes the ordinary days make us wonder if God has forgotten us. After all, when we read the Bible (or Facebook), it all seems so exciting. God is working! Our lives, on the other hand, seem exceedingly boring.

Your Natural Stuff in God's Marvelous Plan

(Photo: Dothan Valley, where Joseph’s brothers sold him. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But the events in Joseph’s ordinary day in the Dothan Valley revealed God behind the scenes.

Jacob’s 10 oldest sons had traveled north to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. So Jacob dispatched Joseph, whom he loved more than all his other sons, from the Valley of Hebron to check on their welfare.

When Joseph arrived, he found that his brothers had moved further north to the lush pastures of Dothan. Seeing him in the distance, the brothers—jealous of their father’s love for Joseph—purposed to kill the boy. But the presence of a nearby cistern convinced them instead to hurl Joseph into it—and leave him there to die (see Genesis 37:12-28).

It seemed that God dropped the ball. But His painful providence would prove wiser than Joseph’s limited insight.

The same is true for you. God uses your ordinary days in His marvelous plan.

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The Amazing Blessing of Your Average Life

Sometimes the blessing comes with a simple change of perspective.

Would you say your life is average? More ho-hum than awesome? You’re not alone. You’ve probably noticed, but very few people attain stardom status in life. That’s probably a good thing

The Amazing Blessing of Your Average Life

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Solomon’s words, “money is the answer to everything,” come from an earthly perspective (Ecc. 10:19). Among the rich and famous, so few find satisfaction—even in their success.

For some reason, it seems uncommon for exceptional lives to handle success well. Perhaps because success ranks just as much a test of character as does poverty. Maybe more.

Have you ever considered the blessing of being average?

It may surprise you.

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Why the High Price of Humility is Worth What You Pay

Horeshat Tal reminds us of unity's essential ingredient.

Living together in harmony make life great. But dealing with disharmony is like draining the marrow from your bones. King David knew both extremes. He offers wisdom from the voice of experience.

Horeshat Tal—A Reminder of Unity's Essential Ingredient

(Photo: Horeshat Tal National Park. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Many places in Israel today adapt their modern names from biblical names or references. Horeshat Tal National Park takes its name from David’s words in Psalm 133. Horeshat Tal means “The Dew Grove,” a name derived from verse 3:

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. —Psalm 133:3

Sitting in the shadow of Mount Hermon, this extensive park with its lush surroundings includes beautiful lawns, rolling streams, stone bridges, and a large swimming pool and water slide.

But the best parts of the park are the beautiful groves of centuries-old Tabor oak trees.

  • At one time, these oaks grew in abundance on the hills of the Galilee.
  • These trees are all that remain—saved partly due to a local legend that claims whoever harms a tree will endure suffering.

The superstition reminds us of a principle of unity that Psalm 133 speaks as truth—not legend.

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God’s Amazing Goals for Your Life Begin Here

The small things we do matter to God.

Sometimes the dreams and goals you have for life are good goals—even godly goals—but just not God’s goals. Your expectations of life are just that—yours. God has His own set of plans, and He isn’t telling.

God's Goals for Your Life Begin Here

(Photo by Photodune)

God may lead you initially one direction simply to take you another.

  • He may give you a vision as a single, or for a family, or for a ministry only so that He can sanctify you by his grace in experiencing a slammed door.
  • Slammed doors do more than bend your nose; they keep your heart pliable, sensitive, and available to God’s leading.

Not only does He keep secret the difficult valleys you’ll experience (and many of the mountaintops), but also the tremendous lessons you’ll glean no other way. Lessons you didn’t know you needed to learn. Lessons you’ll thank Him for one day.

Very often, we fail to recognize God using us significantly because we define God “using us” in terms of what we consider significant: results.

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How to Discover the Secret to a Lasting Satisfaction

How do we deal with the futility of life when the satisfaction always fades?

Have you ever noticed how we dedicate so much time and money to feed feelings that last only a moment? Think about your upcoming weekend for a moment and see if it isn’t true.

The Secret to a Lasting Satisfaction

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

  • We pay five dollars for a cup of coffee we drink in five minutes.
  • We long for that glorious vacation but come home in a week to face the same daily grind.
  • We plunk down twenty bucks for a movie (and even more for popcorn), and it’s over in two hours.
  • We enjoy the zing of a new relationship or a new church fellowship only to discover it’s just like the last one.

Nothing wrong with any of these activities, per se. But when joy and satisfaction in life elude us, we need to ask an obvious question with a not-so-obvious answer: How do we deal with the futility of life when my satisfaction always fades?

Eventually we figure out we can’t exist for the next relationship or vacation or pat on the back. Instead, we need to learn to live for what never fades and what always satisfies.

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A Map Shows What Happens When Bias Takes the Throne

Solomon’s administrative districts reveal a weakness we must avoid.

Have you ever known someone who fails to take their own advice? Somehow what they see so clearly in the lives of others becomes a personal blind spot that undermines their success.

Jerusalem looking north to Solomon's 12 districts

(Photo: Jerusalem looking north to Solomon’s 12 districts. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When we look at Solomon, we see a man who literally wrote the book on wisdom. However, his divided heart ultimately divided his nation. But why?

We often point to the influence of Solomon’s foreign wives and their imported idolatry as the cause of his downfall. But let’s look beyond the obvious. The problem went deeper.

We can see the source of Solomon’s fatal flaw on a map—literally.

Is the weakness on the map of your life too?

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself in Making the Right Decision

We need to remember that our spiritual life IS our life.

How many times have we made what we thought was the best decision—but it turned out to be the worst? Lessons learned from such blunders we remember and regret all of our lives.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself in Making the Right Decision

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We make knee-jerk decisions that we think will benefit us financially, or relationally, or vocationally, or physically.

But what about spiritually? Lot failed to ask that question, and he lived with the regret.

But we don’t have to be like that if we’ll ask ourselves 3 questions.

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How the Gezer Boundary Stones Speak to Your Spiritual Life

Those stones are there for a reason you can trust—even if you don’t understand.

Think about the land you live on. The dirt beneath your house has been there for thousands of years. The hills that surround your neighborhood haven’t moved since God put them there at creation.

How the Gezer Boundary Stones Speak to Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Gezer boundary inscription number 8. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We protect and defend our property, don’t we? It’s a big deal. We post signs to warn trespassers. We build fences. We install security systems.

After all, the land is ours. (For now.)

But if we think about it, someone else lived here before us. And after we leave this life, another titleholder will own, work, and defend the land we owned for a few years. (In my case, the next owner will have a forest of great trees we planted from saplings. You’re welcome.)

The discovery of ancient boundary stones at Tel Gezer in Israel remind us of more than biblical property lines.

They prompt us to observe essential boundaries in our spiritual lives.

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Eilat Reminds You of the One Question You Must Always Ask

A Word of Warning When Your Ship Comes In

Sometimes a decision looks so good it can’t be bad. Or what we stand to gain overshadows any thought of what we might lose. But at the southern end of Israel sits a seaport with an ancient example that applies to your choices this afternoon.

Eilat Gives a Word of Warning When Your Ship Has Come In

(Photo: Boats at modern Eilat. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The biblical city of Ezion-geber, near modern Eilat, served as Israel’s occasional port on the Red Sea. On one occasion, the gulf offered a tremendous opportunity for a lucrative shipping industry for King Jehoshaphat.

As with Jehoshaphat, Eilat parallels many opportunities you have today when your ship has come in:

  • The financial deal promises a sure return on your investment.
  • The kind, attentive gentleman asks for your hand in marriage.
  • The promotion comes with the salary you’ve waited for a long time.
  • The new church you’re attending is just around the block.

But in making these decisions, have you forgotten to ask the most important question?

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How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

The silent, unseen essentials of what makes life really matter.

After my grandfather died years ago, I planted an oak tree in his memory in our front yard. The skinny stem stood only 6 feet tall (like Granddad did). I planted it on a windy day.

How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

(By Almonroth. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A few hours later, my neighbor hollered: “Hey, Wayne, your tree was really leaning over in the wind!” I grabbed the trunk and slightly bent the tree over. The whole base moved, because it had no root system yet. So I staked it down.

Two years later when I bent the tree, the base didn’t move. But you know what? The tree looked the same. No visible change. Its goal for its first two years was its roots, not its limbs and leaves.

That little sprig offers a contrast (and a lesson) to you and me.

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