I love how God blesses us in unexpected ways to reinforce His truth. Today, while writing this devotional, I went downstairs to eat breakfast in the Mobile, Alabama Marriott. I gave the hostess my room number so she could charge me. (Actually, my expenses were covered by the church that invited me to speak.) But she declined to do that. Instead she gave me an extra coupon and insisted that I eat at no cost. God gave me and the church blessing me a reminder that our daily bread was indeed a gift from Him.
Matthew 6:11—Give us today our daily bread.
Donna sat next to me on my plane flight home. I was blessed to get to know this incredible woman. Donna is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HMS, a company she started. As she shared with me some of her life story I was most impressed by her humility and her sense of gratefulness.
Our garage is full of boxes and items that we will transport to Champoeg State Park. The weather forecast for Sunday is 72 degrees and cloudy—almost perfect! The kitchen is stacked with boxes of food, prepared and unprepared. Brenda, Kathleen’s sister, spent countless hours ironing tablecloths, dresses, shirts, etc. Orange and purple flower arrangements dance in their splendid array. Bridesmaids are making signs. Kathleen’s friends of countless weddings, veterans familiar in how these things go, are cooking, planning and helping us with all the logistical challenges (and I thought military exercises were complicated).
We’ve tried hard to sell our house in Tigard but to no avail. For over a year it sat vacant. Have you ever had times when a nagging notion persistently sits in your heart? I’ve had that notion—I believe God wants our house to be used for ministry. So, with hesitant concurrence from my wife, we decided to deepen our risk factor. 12350 SW Tiedeman became a spiritual oasis, a shelter for the homeless and refuge for the hurting.
Raul lives in Chinandega, Nicaragua and serves with our First Cause team by translating Reverations into Spanish. Recently Raul* lost his job yet needed funds to help pay his school tuition and for a training conference with Timothy Academy in Honduras. I wired Raul money based on the bank instructions he gave me. But when he went to the bank they said no funds had arrived. For three weeks this went on—each time Raul went to the bank they reported no money. Yet on my end I had a receipt showing $146 was wired. Raul believed me and I believed Dolex Dollar Express and we both trusted God but Raul had no funds.
When Nancy was thirteen years old she was diagnosed with a disease in her heart, osteoporosis, and the verdict that she would never bear children. She and her mother bargained with God. They would pray wherever they were every day for two months at six a.m. and six p.m. if He would heal her. At home they had no food and life was miserable. One day several Costa Ricans came to her Nicaraguan church. While the visiting pastor spoke with Nancy’s mom, his wife spoke with Nancy. On a Friday afternoon she told her that she would receive everything back in double for her faithfulness. On Monday when the doctors examined her, she was completely healed. Though He did not have too, God in His mercy, blessed the young girl.
1 Kings 17:14—For this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.”
Every Sunday evening, Dan and Doris Berg lead a Bible Study for a Hispanic family. It is an ongoing ministry of love. One evening, after logging 340 miles on the road with his job with Wickes, Dan borrowed Tom’s pick-up truck to help the family move to another location in Hillsboro. One of the nephews, Jacob, about twenty-one years of age, accompanied Dan as they transported furniture. Jacob shared with him his desire to get away from a hazardous lifestyle that involved gangs and all that goes with spending time with bad company. While Dan listened, he spoke of his need for God—something he had not told anyone else.
Growing up we moved a lot. One of the fun challenges of moving was trying to figure out how to fit everything into the U-Haul truck. Watching my Dad, I learned three important principles for packing a truck. First, evaluate what needs to be moved. Whatever is heaviest or large gets packed first (or on the bottom) and some things just need to be left behind or given away. Second, to protect the back from injury, always lift from the legs when carrying heavy or awkward objects. Third, work as a team—don’t try to carry something that is too heavy alone. I suspect those principles have spiritual applications.
When we use the word providence in reference to God we mean that He faithfully foresees and effectively preserves, provides and governs over His creation most often through secondary causes. Proverbs 20:24 says, “The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we’re going?” (The Message)
As I read Scripture, I am continuously impressed with our Heavenly Father’s desire to bless us. From Genesis to Revelation runs a consistent theme—God loves to give to His children. As a parent I understand some of what God feels. I look forward to giving my children gifts. There is something profoundly special about favorably touching lives.
Nehemiah 9:19-21--You did not abandon them in the wilderness because of Your great compassion. During the day the pillar of cloud never turned away from them, guiding them on their journey. And during the night the pillar of fire illuminated the way they should go. You sent Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst. You provided for them in the wilderness 40 years and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.
Reveration means reverent-adoration. It is a word I created after studying one of the most overlooked major themes of Scripture—the fear of God. If love for God is food than reverence for Him is water. We need both to nourish our relationship. Love devoid of respect is emotionally unstable causing people to perceive God as some sort of cosmic Genie. Respect without love is mechanically rigid such that people approach God from a sense of duty, concerned with failing, convinced that He is a harsh Judge.
For the last six nights my kids have slept in a tent I set up for them in our backyard. I figured they would last one night. But no—they loved the adventure and asked each evening to sleep outside. Even Dusty, our middle-aged lab retriever seemed more than happy to join them.
If the world was a scale it would not be able to measure this treasure. If we took all the money minted and printed throughout history from the entire globe and made one gigantic deposit in an effort to buy this prize it would be like licking the pyramids in order to dissolve them. If the earth’s greatest musicians and singers composed the most perfect melody it could not touch the soul like this gift from heaven. God’s love cannot be weighed or purchased or matched. It is eternal in life and measureless in amount.
Matthew 11:28--Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
John 14:1—Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.
2 Corinthians 5:7--For we walk by faith, not by sight.
While standing in the immigration line in Narita airport—Tokyo, Japan after a long flight from San Francisco, I heard my name called by a voice from the past. There ahead of me was my best friend from college and five years in the army—Dave Mead. Wow! What are the odds of a guy from Oregon running into his friend from New York in one of the largest airports in the world?