How God Turns Unfair Criticism into a Blessing for You

From Bahurim to Susa, the Lord’s Providential Ironies Flow from Benjamin’s Tribe

It’s tough to hear criticism—especially when it’s wrong. One of the dark moments of King David’s reign saw him shuffling barefoot over the Mount of Olives, fleeing rather than facing a fight with his rebel son Absalom.

From Bahurim to Susa—God Turns a Curse into a Blessing

(Photo: Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After David made his way over the summit, he passed below the Benjamite village of Bahurim. There a loudmouth named Shimei hurled rocks at David’s passing entourage. But the curses Shimei chucked hurt worse.

David’s response was stellar:

My son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day. —2 Sam. 16:11–12

Centuries later, another Benjamite named Shimei would play a role in providing blessing to David’s line. In fact to all Jews.

And to you.

Has someone criticized you unfairly? Here’s what you have to look forward to.

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I walked by the Church of the Primacy of Peter yesterday—beside the Sea of Galilee—one of my favorite places in all Israel. Why so special? Because here Jesus said something to Peter we all need to hear when we’ve blown it. Watch the video. 

Tell me what you think: What encourages you most when you blow it? To leave a comment, just click here.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

The will of God also includes the presence of God, and thus, His comfort.

Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

(Photo by Photodune)

What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?

God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. Yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? 

What God said is a lesson we need to hear.

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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 empty ones right in front of me. Oh dear.

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—changing its altitude.

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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