4 Blessings from God that May Surprise You

God May Want to Give You More than Relief

Sometimes it seems no one understands what we’re going through. When people fail us, or forget us, or even betray us, we’re left alone in the ashes of a reality we never expected or wanted.

God May Want to Give You More than Relief

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

In those intense moments of loneliness, confusion, and pain, we ask God for one thing more than anything else. Relief from suffering.

But when relief is denied, we begin the difficult journey of resisting the notion that God is a cruel sovereign who toys with our lives. After all, He could stop it all in moment. After everything else but God gets stripped away from our lives, we begin realize that the Lord may want to give us something more—and much greater—than relief.

In those moments, God becomes more real to us than we ever would have known any other way.

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Jesus’ Birth in a Humble Bethlehem Had You in Mind

What His ignoble birth means for you.

It must have seemed really strange. Honestly, it still does. Two thousand years of waiting for the Messiah, and He is born in a barn and laid in a feed trough.

Jesus' Birth in a Barn Had You in Mind

(Shepherd in modern Israel, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

If it had been up to us, we would have given God’s Son a room in the finest five-star hotel in Bethlehem. But Jesus got only a one-star motel—and God had to provide the star!

When the shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to find the baby of whom the angels spoke, the wonder of God’s power must have seemed a strange contradiction to the conditions they found.

  • No halos hovered over Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
  • Instead, they saw a poor couple surrounded by animals and the smell of manure.

Actually, the crudity of Jesus’ birth story offers really good news.

Because it had you in mind.

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Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

Yet some rules no longer apply (and why)

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

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How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

The One Thing Jesus Did to Change Activity to Efficiency

Is this true of you? Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive. Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity.

How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t always represent efficiency. It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.

As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:

  • The demands on Him were constant.
  • The needs He faced were overwhelming.
  • The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.

No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.

What was His secret?

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Pools of Bethesda—God’s Kindness and Our Repentance

What motivates you most isn't fear.

Very few people are drawn to God by intimidation. Instead, the Lord urges us to come to Him by revealing the kindness of His mercy. It’s a tremendous motivation.

Pools of Bethesda—God’s Kindness and Our Repentance

(Photo: Pools of Bethesda and Crusader chapel, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Once we comprehend the depth of our imperfections, and the futility of our own efforts to remove them, we are in a position to respond to God’s kindness.

In this post, you’ll read how Jesus revealed this simple truth one day in Jerusalem with an act of mercy at the Pools of Bethesda.

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The Best Insurance for the Most Certain Event in Your Life

Why you should insure what's certain and not only what's possible.

As worriers, we often place more value on possibilities than certainties. We’ll invest plenty of money to insure ourselves against theft, flood, fire, sickness, or accident—all only possibilities. But we give little thought to the most certain event in our lives.

Death. Even life insurance doesn’t cover that.

The Best Insurance for the Most Certain Event in Your Life

(Photo by Photodune)

I believe in insurance. I pay for it, consider it prudent, and enjoy its benefits. In a way, my blog distributes spiritual insurance in bulk.

  • I explain people’s options and risks regarding the events following death.
  • I do my best to warn them of buying into cheap insurance that looks good up front but raises its premiums exorbitantly and reneges on paying the final benefits of their claim.

Such shams offer heaven for the price of good deeds.

Only God offers the best insurance for the most certain event in your life.

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Timna Park—A Portrait of Your Atonement on Yom Kippur

Enter a doorway to history—and view a picture of your salvation.

The best part of Timna Park is its least-known exhibit. Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in Israel’s Arabah Valley sits a place most visitors never see.

Tabernacle model at Timna Park.

(Photo: Tabernacle model at Timna Park. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Timna Park’s best-known attraction is called “Solomon’s Pillars”—beautiful Nubian sandstone formations that have nothing to do with King Solomon. The park also features relics from Egyptian idolatry as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining. But the best part? A full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years.

It is like entering a doorway to history—and viewing a picture of your salvation.

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Traditions, Truth, and Praying with Your Eyes Open

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

Many find it hard to identify with the Jews who rock before Jerusalem’s Western Wall. I know I did at first. It seemed, well . . . odd. Then I thought about my traditions. Are they any less bizarre?

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

(Photo: Men praying at the Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Oddness just comes in different flavors. They’re called “traditions.” For example:

  • Jews pray with their heads covered; we take our hats off.
  • Their prayers are public and loud; ours are private and quiet.
  • They rock back and forth and pray from a book; we bow our heads, close our eyes, and utter unrehearsed words.

It’s easy in the familiarity of our own traditions to shake our fingers at the oddities of others. Jews pray while rocking, Muslims kneel with their bottoms in the air, and Christians bow our heads and close our eyes.

But blend any tradition—bowing, standing, prostrating, rocking, kneeling, or jumping—with no personal relationship with the true God, and it’s totally pointless.

Maybe we Christians should open our eyes during prayer for a change.

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I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

Did you have to teach your kids to disobey? Um, not hardly. In fact, they taught you! There were times when my daughters’ disobedience was hilarious.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

(Photo by Photodune)

Years ago when one of my girls was only three, she snuck in the kitchen, climbed on the cabinet, found some candy, went to her room, closed the door, and hid under her bed to eat the sweets. How did she figure out how to do this?

My other daughter was not even two years old yet when she asked for a drink from a bottle. When I gave her a cup instead, she hurled it across the room and screamed, “NNOOO!!!!!” Just precious.

Like you, I never taught my children to disobey. It is in their nature. It’s in my nature too, by the way. And it’s in yours.

But that’s okay. Here’s why.

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I enjoy movies about Jesus—especially when they’re done well. They help me picture the Lord as a real man and not a stained-glass Messiah.

Based on Mark Burnett’s and Roma Downey’s successful “The Bible: The Epic Miniseries,” the movie The Son of God opened this weekend.

The movie’s official Web site talks more about the film.

Question: Have you seen the film? What did you think? To leave a comment, just click here.