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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Mount Carmel and Elijah’s Place of Burning Leave a Lasting Lesson

Elijah’s question to Israel remains a question we too should answer.

Even when God allows hard times in our lives, He means to draw us back to Him. Elijah’s question to Israel on Mount Carmel remains a question we too should answer and apply.

Mount Carmel and the Place of Burning

(Photo: Fires on Mount Carmel in 2010, by יחידה אווירית משטרת ישראל CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ll never forget the images of Mount Carmel’s scorching flames in December 2010. The largest fire in Israel’s history billowed so much smoke that a NASA satellite could photograph it. In addition to the tragic loss of life—both human and animal—the devastating inferno destroyed 5 million trees.

While reading about the fire in the news, I thought about the scenic overlook on Mount Carmel I have visited many times. The name of the place is Muhraqa, which means, ironically, “burning.”

Fortunately, most of Mount Carmel’s beautiful historic sites (including Muhraqa) escaped the 2010 forest fire. Beauty untouched beside utter devastation.

In a land where water is life, the lushness of Mount Carmel came to represent nothing less than the blessing of God.

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Hebron—the Cave of Machpelah Stands as a Testimony of Faith

Good news: we lose nothing of God's promises in death.

It’s actually good news: death can teach us a lot about life. Specifically, we lose nothing of God’s promises when death occurs. The Cave of Machpelah in Hebron shows us why.

Machpelah in Hebron

(Photo: The building that covers the “Cave of the Patriarchs” at Machpelah in Hebron. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Towering like a fortress over the shoddy buildings that surround it, the ancient structure in Hebron covers a site sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

In elevation, Hebron stands taller than even Jerusalem. And other than the Temple Mount itself, no other place remains as revered to peoples whose hopes and faiths could not be more diverse.

Few other places offer such a powerful lesson in faith for those of us still drawing a breath.

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What to Do When It’s Not Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Lonely holidays are the times to draw close to God.

The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.

(Photo by Photodune)

(Photo by Photodune)

Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.

During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).

David felt very alone.

His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Wall Give a Lesson from Archaeology

Scripture is supported by what we can dig out of the ground.

The ancient world had a bully system that worked in straightforward terms. A nation would conquer a region and demand tribute—annual payment of money and goods. If you didn’t pay tribute, they’d come and kill you. Pretty simple system.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

(Photo: Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

King Hezekiah refused to pay tribute to the bully. So the Assyrians invaded Judah.

Archaeology has unearthed treasures that reveal Hezekiah’s faith in God. How does it strengthen your faith to see the Bible in archaeology?

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How to Change Your Past with 2 Mind Hacks

A couple of daily decisions can help you change the past that will be.

Think about the worst mistake you’ve made. If you’re like me, it probably ranks as the worst because of the fallout it caused. After all, some wrong things we did seem to have had little effect. But the ones that backfired on us we view as the big ones.

How to Change Your Past with 2 Mind Hacks

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

The trouble is, we never know which compromises will end up being the big ones.

Reuben, the oldest son of Jacob, blew it big-time. From his example, we can learn to make two daily decisions that can change your past.

More specifically, we can change your past that will be.

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How to Struggle with God and Win

Jacob's brawl at the Jabbok River gives a model of how to do it.

What does it take for God to change you? In the Bible, when the Lord changed Jacob, it took a brawl. Isn’t it often the same with us?

Struggling with God

(Photo via Vivozoom)

These times we struggle with the Father represent His grace, I believe. It’s never easy, and it often seems rigged in God’s favor.

But Jacob shows us how to win the struggle.

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When Your Life Feels Empty

Looking at the Right Gauge is the Secret to Making It

I used to use an old pickup truck for odd jobs. It was dented, scratched, and ugly—but faithful. The only glitch in the truck was the gas gauge. No matter how much gas it had, the gauge read “almost empty.”

When Your Life Feels Empty

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

If you had just filled up, it read “almost empty.” If you had half a tank, it read “almost empty.” The gauge only worked when you were out of gas! It would immediately move from “almost empty” to “empty.” I remember once I coasted into a gas station on fumes and a prayer.

I have found one thing in life that cuts the cable from the gas tank to the gas gauge quicker than anything else.

  • It drains your relationships with people and dries up your walk with God.
  • It blurs your vision, exaggerates your emotions, and takes a healthy, balanced perspective of life and twists it of proportion.

I’m talking about the pervasive and infectious attitude of bitterness.

You can be riding along with a full tank, but bitterness will show you a gauge “almost empty.”

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Are Your Big Dreams as Big as Your God?

Here's how to tell if your dreams match God's desires for you.

Life gets fueled on dreams. Without big dreams or a purpose, we wither and die. As Christians, we have more to do than get up, work hard, and come home for a few hours of TV . . . only to rise and begin again.

Are Your Big Dreams as Big as Your God?

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

If that’s all we do, we will wake up one day and realize life has amounted to a stack of paychecks and a few laughs.

God wants more for us than that.

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Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

Sometimes what we see seems more compelling than what God says.

Too often, fear keeps us from enjoying what God has promised. We want so badly to have faith in what the Lord says. But fear of what we see seems more compelling than mere words. Gideon knew that.

Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

(Photo: Ein Harod (Gideon’s Spring). Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Gideon longed to believe God. But the enemy army before him was enormous. What he saw seemed far more compelling than what God had promised him.

We face the same odds today. And the solution is the same.

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