It will go down in history as perhaps mankind’s most bizarre year. Never has the entire globe in unison shut down because of a virus. Restrictions in travel, work, recreation, size of gatherings etc., have ruined businesses, increased the number of suicides and deaths for those with other ailments who cannot be hospitalized, amped fear to unprecedented levels, and created a huge divide in opinion over what should or should not be done. Meanwhile political unrest, rolling waves of violence, storms and disasters add to the cacophony of 2020.
Colossians 3:16--Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.
My good friend Dan moved from Tigard to Albany Oregon to work with Dana, another mutual friend. Unfortunately, Dana’s business experienced a downturn and he had to let Dan go. In 2012 Dan felt led to stay in Albany and serve as an Associate Pastor in a Calvary Chapel.
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.
Angel started her job in July. She looked forward to the opportunity to share Christ with her new coworkers and to utilizing her cooking skills in the popular restaurant on the busy street of MG. A month later, she fought back tears—work was not going as she had expected. When the other girls on her shift learned she was a Christian, many were curious and began to ask her questions, but not Varuni, a tall, woman from Pune. She let Angel know in no uncertain terms that she did not care for Jesus chatter.
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.”
Did you know that God designed a formula that no one has ever replicated? Dr. Marianne Neifert writes, “Human milk is nature's perfect design for helping your baby’s body and brain grow and develop. No formula can be made exactly the same as human milk because we do not know all the ingredients of human milk.” Of course we know it is God and not nature Who designed the perfect beverage! He also created a formula that has hidden benefits. Nursing causes the body to release a hormone called oxytocin which enables the uterus to return to its normal size after delivery. Nursing burns calories which help moms shed the extra pounds gained during pregnancy. Best of all, nursing creates a strong psychological bond which emotionally strengthens both the mother and her infant.
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)