Christmas Shows God’s Amazing Providence in Your Life

Here's how you can know your chances are really God’s choices.

The first Christmas looked like a coincidence. From a human perspective, politics set the agenda: Caesar took a census of his people. End of story. But it wasn’t.

Christmas Shows the Power of God's Providence in Your Life

(Photo: Bethlehem Fields with Herod’s Herodium in background. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

From the divine viewpoint, God orchestrated ordinary events for extraordinary outcomes.

Think about this past year in your life. Many ordinary events occurred. Most of them you don’t remember. But God has been working. It isn’t just the Christmas story.

It’s your story too. God uses the power of providence in your life.

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How to Follow God When His Plan Seems Strange

We want God's plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.

God’s leading is often strange. That’s because He doesn’t share the plan. He keeps it a secret. We want God’s plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.

How to Follow When God's Plan is Strange

(Photo by Tom Butler, courtesy of oomf.com)

Genesis began with God blessing all He created. But the fall of man, Abel’s murder, the rebellion at Babel, and the global flood gave cause to doubt that there would be any recovery of that blessing. Genesis 3–11 sketches more than 4,000 years of suffering that people experienced under the curse of sin.

But God’s plan chose one man through whom He would resurrect His blessing for all mankind.

Your life may seem in chaos as well. But God has a good plan He is hiding.

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How to Understand God’s Plan for You in a World of Confusion

No need to miss the opportunity God has given you today.

Tough circumstances of life always change our minds about God. They either tempt us to doubt what He’s promised, or they draw us closer to Him in faith. But we never stay the same.

How to Understand God's Plan for You in a World of Confusion

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

God’s plan for your life is revealed and tested in times of struggle.

If you’re struggling today, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for you.

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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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Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

I heard them board the airplane before I saw them. A mother was pushing one toddler in front of her and dragging another behind. The only available seats were the three right in front of me.

Why We Should Default to Grace Rather than to Criticism

(Picture: Meet Theo.)

I had never considered childproof locks on airline seatbelts. Now, I’m certain there’s a market for them. I would have bought one.

For more than two straight hours I watched the younger son—who reminded me of Bugs Bunny’s Tasmanian devil—jump, flail, thrash, flap, flop, hop, laugh—but mostly, scream. I don’t remember the name of the older son.

But I’ll never forget the Tasmanian devil’s name: “Theo.” I know because I heard it 863 times.

Absolutely undaunted, the mother used her large voice without embarrassment to correct Theo. She also informed the rest of us what was about to happen.

Once after Theo took his crayon and marked on the wall of the airplane (see the mark on the wall at left?), she jerked him from the window seat and announced to the rest of us, “Sorry about the screaming for the next 10 minutes, folks!” She was right. Little Theo let us have it.

My First, Second, and Third Reactions

  1. My first reaction was to wonder why the mother hadn’t brought along a gallon of Tylenol PM. (If not for Theo, then for the rest of us.)
  2. My second reaction to this irritation was—I confess—frustration and resentment. After all, I paid just as much for my loud seat as the lucky people in the quiet part of the plane.
  3. But my third reaction took my attitude in a completely different direction.

God boarded the plane at that moment and somehow found room in my narrow heart.

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How God Broadens Your Limited Perspective

Bridging the gap between the God we want and the God who is.

Have you noticed how often we tend to interpret our faith as we want it to be, rather than as God reveals it to be? I think of it this way. We have adopted the lifestyle of a tourist who only wants to see the highlights of the city.

How God Broadens Your Limited Perspective

(Photo: courtesy of Oomph)

Forget all the back alleys of New York. Show me Times Square. Let’s just jump to the Empire State Building. We focus on how the Christian life “ought” to be. (As if the tough parts are electives.)

A broad chasm stretches between the God we want and the God who is. Between the life we want and the life God wants for us.

As tough as it sounds, the only way to bridge this gap is the cross.

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4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

When you feel the pull, here's what to do.

Temptation tugs hard at our hearts at times. It’s like pulling a rope tied to an elephant. In this tug-of-war with our hearts, we need a mindset that goes beyond a defensive strategy and takes an active approach to sin and temptation.

4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

(Photo by Photodune)

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

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One Thing that May Make You Doubt God’s Presence

The Sinai Wilderness reminds us God's presence among us doesn’t always prove itself by our standards.

We know intellectually that God is with us. But sometimes our emotions haven’t gotten the message yet. We look at our Bible and it doesn’t seem to match our lives.

One Thing that May Make You Doubt God's Presence

(Photo: Sinai mountains with book of Exodus. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When our world screams that God isn’t with us, or that He doesn’t care, or that the way things are will never improve, we have to remember what caused the Hebrews of old to doubt the Lord’s presence.

A shift in our thinking can help connect our emotions to truth.

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How to Turn Your Life Around 360 Degrees

A God of impossibilities shows His power in impossible situations.

Life often feels like a lot of effort with nothing gained. It reminds me of what Jason Kidd said after the Dallas Mavericks drafted him: “We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees!”

How to Turn Your Life Around 360 Degrees

(Photo by Photodune)

At times, the Bible seems like a history book in which God makes and fulfills promises to the ancients, but the words somehow lack immediacy to our struggling lives. And yet, it’s funny how the anxieties that overwhelm our lives seem identical to those that biblical people struggled against.

Even though Scripture provides assurance of God’s promises, assurance doesn’t negate the stressful circumstances that force us to trust God.

Truth doesn’t make the hard parts of life go away. We still have to trust God with that truth.

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Finding the Motivation for Giving All of Your Heart to God

It comes from a past action that wasn't even yours.

There is a past action that dictates your motivation for living for God. It’s an action you can’t change. In fact, the action wasn’t even yours. But it can help you give it all to God.

Finding the Motivation for Giving All of Your Heart to God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Years ago I owned a different car—a sports car. Sitting behind those eight cylinders, I could go from zero to too-fast in about five seconds. (Of course, I never did). After Cathy and I had our first daughter, I decided I needed a family vehicle. Car seats don’t fit in Firebirds.

So I sold the car.

A few months later, I found a spare set of keys to the car, and I thought: I need to get these to the new owner. Even though I could have kept the keys (as insignificant as it seemed), they really weren’t mine to keep. I had sold them, in a sense, when I sold the car.

Living for God is like finding a spare set of keys to a car you no longer own.

In fact, you have a whole lot of keys that aren’t yours, because of that past action I mentioned.

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