Why God Makes You Go The Long Way

His mysterious leading proves wiser than our impatient pleas for progress.

Sometimes God takes you the long way in life. That’s hard, because the direct route makes so much more sense. We’re all about efficiency. But God has a different destination in mind.

Why God Makes You Go The Long Way

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The nation of Israel began their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land by promptly turning away from it.

Rather than take the shorter, coastal route to Canaan, God directed Israel southeast toward the Red Sea. The direct route led through the land of the Philistines, and while God could have simply destroyed the enemy (as He would at the Red Sea), His concern lay more with the unprepared and fearful hearts of His people (Exod. 13:17-18).

So God took them the long way. And it seemed pointless. But was it?

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How to Strengthen Your Vulnerable Buffer Zone

The foothills of Israel's Shephelah offer lessons on keeping spiritually alert.

Do you have a buffer zone between you and what can harm you? I’m talking about putting a safeguard between you and evil influences that can cause compromise in your walk with Jesus Christ. We see an illustration of this buffer zone throughout Old Testament history in the foothills of Israel’s Shephelah.

The Shephelah

(Photo: The Shephelah. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Between the Philistine plain and the Hill Country where God’s people dwelt lay 10 miles of low rolling hills. This buffer zone was known as the “Shephelah.” The hills of the Shephelah served as a geographical buffer that represented a spiritual barrier.

You have a Shephelah in your life as well. Here’s how you can guard it.

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This is How to Overcome Your Overwhelm

Your problems can seem smaller when you see a new perspective.

Close one eye and look closely at a marble. It seems massive. In fact, the marble is all you see. It dwarfs everything else. But its size is an illusion.

A basketball is bigger. The planet earth is even bigger. Come to think of it, God is infinitely bigger than your marble. Your problems are like that.

This is How to Overcome Your Overwhelm

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Life is filled with marbles. When you fixate on your marbles, you can’t see the reality that they are small in comparison to God’s power.

Sure, they’re real. Of course they hurt. But your life is more than your problems, just as the world is more than your marbles. Or it can be. You can stop staring at your marbles. You only need to sit up, blink a few times, and look around.

God is much bigger than your marbles.

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The Promised Land and God’s Amazing Provision for Your Life

If God will provide, why do our means seem so meager?

The tension is nothing new for us who believe in God. It’s just that most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.

In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why our means seem so meager.

If God Will Provide, Why Are My Means So Meager?

(Photo: Wheat field near Bet Guvrin, Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.

  • This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
  • Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
  • However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).

All this was to show that the Promised Land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would.

For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).

Here’s why the same is true for us.

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How God Helps You in Impossible Situations

The only way to experience the joy of God's power

God often puts us in impossible situations. We find it frustrating, sure—but it’s never meant to be. In fact, those circumstances are meant to do just the opposite. They’re meant to encourage us.

How God Helps You in Impossible Situations

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With the Sea of Galilee in view on the Plain of Bethsaida, Jesus pointed to thousands of people and said to His twelve disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mark 6:37).

You can hear the frustration in the disciples’ reply: “Should we spend half a year’s wages to feed them?” Forget for a moment you’ve heard this story before.

Think instead of your current problem.

  • Your financial picture is unmanageable.
  • A close relationship has been strained for years.
  • You’ve been unemployed for much longer than you imagined.

Whatever it is you’re facing today, you face one of many impossible situations. Now go back to Jesus’ crazy command to His disciples. His solution for them is also His solution for you.

Let me show you why.

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When You’re Waiting on God in a Weary Land

How your place of confusion can become a place of refuge.

Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst. That’s what David thought as he wandered in the Judean wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.

Waiting on God in a Weary Land

(Photo: The Wilderness of Judea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.

It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.

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How to Deal With It When God Says NO

Sometimes living with the tension is an act of faith.

You prepared your plans with prayer. For many, many months. You even asked others to pray as well. As far as you can tell, you did everything right and with right motives. But still God said no

How to Deal With It When God Says NO

This just happened to me. Cathy and I just returned from a tour to Israel. It took more than a year to prepare for the tour, and part of our preparation included much prayer. Among other items, our prayer list contained two specifics:

  1. For good weather.
  2. For no one to get injured.

God said NO to both of these in the span of five minutes.

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Why God Will Lead You Unwanted Places

Discovering the joy of surrendering to God

God will lead you places you would never choose. Unwanted places. Because the Lord is much greater than you and I can imagine, it makes sense that He wants for us more than we ever dreamed.

Why God Will Lead You Unwanted Places

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God wants you to trust Him, and you’d like to do so. He wants you to glorify Him, to know Him, and so do you. But really, you often want to trust God only when you understand Him. Too often, that desire to know the Lord slices His list of attributes in half.

When you and I settle for anything less than all of God, we also settle for less than all we can become.

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Why You Never Need to Settle for Second Best with God

What God wants to give us is always far better than what we want Him to give us.

Their request seemed to make sense. But it was crazy: “Let this land be given to your servants as a possession,” the people of Reuben and Gad said to Moses, “do not take us across the Jordan” (Numbers 32:5).

Never Settle for Second Best with God

(Photo: Land of Gilead, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad had huge herds, and the land of Gilead and Jazer had lush pastures. So they settled east of the Jordan River instead of crossing over into what God had promised. Bad idea.

Their choice shows us why we should never settle for second best with God.

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How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

The surprising benefits of understanding your limitations.

We tend to expect God to act in ways we can understand. We work, and so God provides money. We pray, and so God answers prayer. We do this, and so God does that. In other words, we see God as the effect and ourselves as the cause.

How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

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Life is all about God responding, it seems, and if we do nothing, neither will God.

This isn’t true, obviously. But it’s how we feel.

So, what if we’re in a situation where we can do nothing? What happens when we can no longer be the cause?

When God demands from you something impossible?

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