Proverbs 16:9 Planning And The Actual Journey

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Plans for traveling are made by people all the time. In the process of planning a major trip across the country, many decisions are made. Where to get gas, where to eat, where to stop for the night, which roads to take, and where to stop for a visit are just a few of the plans made.

These decisions are based off of many different reasons that each person must make for the trip being made. Cost factors, time to drive, distance, what the goal is, and other individual choices have to be made.

Once on the road, however, changes in the plans can easily occur. Vehicle break down, traffic accident, bad weather, and other incidents could occur that change the plans without personal desire.

In the same way, plans are made by people to travel through life. Plans to live in a certain area, or work a specific job, or get a type of college degree and the list goes on indefinitely. A lot of these start out when the person is in high school. Others are made later in life.

Very often those plans get changed, often due to circumstances beyond the control of the person. God will step into the picture and guide the person’s steps through this life. One plan that no person personally chooses is to have trouble or pain. Everyone wants to avoid all trouble if possible.

Yet, it is trouble that can help build a person stronger. God uses everything to build a person more like Jesus.

In your own life, God may have to use some trouble in order to get you to move to a new location in order to bring you a greater blessing. In the new location you may be able to do twice as much for God.

As you go through this life, you can make plans, but hold them loosely in your hands. Allow God to change them for your benefit. Allow God to establish your steps on the best path for the greatest journey through this life that is possible.

Trust God’s plans for your life, they will be the best. Your journey may not turn out as you planned, but it will be the best.

I pray today that you will know God’s guidance for your life; that you will stay on the path God wants you on; that you will not lose faith when God changes your plans; and that you will know and live the abundant life God has for you.

A Great Journey Still Fresh As New

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A word of warning, this post is much longer than my normal posts. Even longer than my extra posts that I do every so often. May you be blessed as you read it.

I have been on a great journey in this life that started twenty-five years ago today. It was May 16, 1992 that my wife and I said “I do” to each other and were married. It has been an amazing journey that many stated would never survive.

I was a young man who went to Trinity Bible college, a small bible college in a very small town in North Dakota. The college made up nearly half of the town’s population. The town only had one stoplight in town.

At the end of the Fall Semester of 1989, I felt God lead me to drop out of college for a time. I was a member of the ND National Guard at the time. The very next year, the war in Kuwait came up. I had volunteered to go over in the battle. I returned home in July 1991 and returned back to my job as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home.

In August, my boss asked me to help train in a new worker on a shift I normally did not work. I met this new worker and noticed that I liked something about her, but was not sure. As I trained her in and worked with her, I started to get to know her.

The more I knew her, the more I liked her. Without telling anyone that I liked her, I proceeded to get to know who she was by talking with her and others who knew her.

On October 10, which just happened to be my birthday, she went with me to a Christian comedian concert. There were supposed to be three other friends going that night, but the night before the concert each one had to back out for various reasons. She was still willing to go.

We spent a good portion of the day together. Everywhere we went people thought we were a couple already. This even included some of my own friends who knew me. Yet, at this point we were not going together.

At the end of the day, I knew that I really liked, no loved her. I prayed very hard all that night. I did not want to just date another girl. If I went into a relationship, I wanted it to be for marriage and for life. I needed to know if she was the lady God wanted me to marry. I felt in my spirit that she was the one, but I needed God to confirm it.

The following morning as I was walking on campus of the college, God chose to confirm it. He did it through three different friends of mine, none of whom knew that I was even interested in her. They had no clue what they were saying or talking about when they told me what they felt God wanted them to tell me, but I knew what it was about.

At that point I went to the campus bookstore and purchased a card that basically asked her to go with me for life. Indirectly it was a proposal. Amazingly, she said yes!

Over the next two months we started dating each other. By the middle of November, we knew that we would get married, but I did not want to officially propose to her until I talked with her father. Right before Christmas break I proposed and made it known to everyone. We set a wedding date for May 16, 1992, six months later.

During the time of engagement, my wife-to-be got very sick. Doctors could not determine what was wrong. We went to many doctors building up a very large medical debt. My small paying job was not enough to really cover the expenses of two houses. I had chosen to provide for all of her needs, besides I was going to be marrying her.

Many people were trying to tell us that the marriage would not work out. This included people in and out of the church. It was a difficult time because we both knew that God had called us together.

Right before the wedding, her health had returned, unexplained. God had blessed us with a very beautiful wedding and a two week honeymoon.

After a year of extreme financial hardship, in a town with no economy or jobs at all, I decided to join the army to get a better paying job. This moved us to Colorado. While there our first daughter was born. Shortly after the Army moved us to Germany. We stayed there for four and half years, and two of our boys were born there.

While in Germany God had blessed my wife with many Godly women to help and guide her in her life. She made several friends there that she is still friends with to this day.

The Army then chose to move us to Texas. We did not want to go there at all, and fought it hard, but God had His reasons. We finally gave in to God’s will and went. Before getting out of the Army, one more son was born.

During the time in Texas I had to be gone for several weeks to a month at a time, many times for trainings. It was a difficult time being separated. God held us together and kept us going forward despite all the challenges. God opened the door for me to get my ministerial certification shortly after getting to Texas.

In 2001, right before the 9-1-1 incident, God allowed me to get out of the army. God had blessed us with getting out, since a month later our country was under war again.

In our church I had become the children’s pastor shortly after getting out of the Army. It was a fun time, though there were some difficulties. The hardest part was financial stress. I could not seem to get a job that paid very well. Somehow God helped us survive and blessed us with two more children.

Later I felt God lead me to become a full pastor of a small church in Central Texas. It was a very difficult move for my wife because she had made a lot of friends where we were and did not want to leave them again. Leaving friends was something that seemed to keep happening in our life.

The move became even more difficult when half the church left right after I took it over. I found out that the church was not doing as well as they had appeared on the outside. After struggling to help it grow and keep the doors open for two years we closed the doors and left the ministry. I could not find another position at all. I felt like God closed the doors on us. I believe that maybe someday God will re-open those doors.

My wife struggled with that because she wanted to be a pastor’s wife. She was also struggling hard to raise our six children, at that time.

After working at it for twenty years, God allowed me to finally graduate college with a General Church Ministries degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Texas. It was a long, at times difficult road, but God had blessed it.

I started working several different jobs and kept getting laid off. Finances were extremely difficult to manage. Somehow God provided for our needs and kept us going. The one thing that was always very strong for us, was our love for each other. My wife supported me in whatever I felt God was leading me or us to do. I supported her in homeschooling our children.

Although my wife has never really worked a job for pay since we have been married (with exception to a couple of short time work jobs), she has worked very hard. The process of taking children to different events or trainings on a regular basis. The work of determining meals for a large family, that half will choose not to eat. The work of ensuring chores are done. And many other things keep her busy and working extremely hard.

Since then God has blessed us with two more wonderful children and a house with some land. We still have some struggles financially, but God has been amazing in providing for our needs. We have had vehicle breakdowns, sickness too numerous to count, injuries, loss of jobs, death in extended family members, false accusations, and many other challenges. The two things that gives sense to why we have survived is love and God, and both of those are one and the same. God is described as love. When we have God, we will have love. When we have love, we will have God.

We have kept a strong love and commitment to each other and to God. Both of us are constantly talking about each other and about God. Our relationship with God comes first, then our relationship together, and finally our relationship with our children.

God has blessed us with our children. Three of them are now adults but are active in the church and in ministry. The next three down are old enough now to be active in ministry in our church also.  The youngest two, I expect, will be active some day in ministry when they get old enough.

As I look back on this journey that started twenty-five years ago today, it often seems as if it just started yesterday or at least just a few days ago. My love for my wife has grown over the years. It has not diminished as many claimed it would. We have never entertained the thought that we should not be together or that someone else would be better. My wife, nor I have ever thought it was better when the other was gone away.

I want to encourage you, that if you are in a relationship or already in a marriage, keep that commitment to love each other and God as God loves you. Do not entertain thoughts of being with someone else. When you say, “I do,” say it for life, no matter what comes up or what happens.

God is with you and will never leave you. With God all things are possible. A marriage that lasts for a lifetime, though uncommon in this world, is not impossible with God at the center.

I can say with Solomon: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22

God has given me what is good and I have found favor with Him in my wonderful marriage of twenty-five years and counting!

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I have been blessed with these twenty-five years and will be blessed for the next hundred and twenty-five on this great journey of marriage and family.

 

Psalm 84:5 Just Traveling Through

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5

Traveling a short distance, less than one-hundred miles, is something that is relatively easy to do. Going a thousand miles or more, is more challenging. Traveling across country, over the ocean to another country, takes a good amount of planning.

Going that kind of distance takes a dedication to see it through. Even though today, a person can fly nearly anywhere in the world and be there within one day, it still takes good planning to do so.

During the times when this psalm was written, everyone traveled on foot or camel back. The process of traveling was very slow. Just traveling across the nation of Israel was a three to four-day trip, if not longer. A person had to have his heart set on making that pilgrimage.

Although physical travel has become much easier, there is a pilgrimage that people must make that takes time and focus. That pilgrimage is the journey through this life. The world is seeking to make themselves better and have all that they want in peace and comfort. It is a journey that they will never complete.

Believers in Jesus, however, also are on a pilgrimage through this life. They are on the journey to become more like Jesus. They are focused on doing what God wants and when He wants it.

Just as a traveler on the road faces various challenges when going down the road, so will every believer in his walk with Jesus. There will be potholes in the road, detours, accidents, and bad weather as well as smooth traveling on this journey in life.

These challenges for a believer are found in persecution, ridicule, fear, illness, death, pain, as well as victory and joy.

The only way to complete the journey is to stay focused on completing it. Do not allow yourself to be turned aside and quit the journey. As you set your heart on the journey God has given you, He will give you the needed strength to complete it.

You are just traveling through this life to get to eternity with God. Don’t stop now, but finish the journey. It will be worth it in the end.

I pray today that God will reveal His path for you; that God will strengthen you for the journey; that you will find joy in your journey; that you will see progress in your journey with God; and that you will finish the journey God has you on.

Numbers 33:1 Stages Of A Journey

Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Numbers 33:1

As the Israelites were getting closer to going across the Jordan River into Canaan, God had Moses write down the stages of the journey. Over the forty years of traveling in the desert, the Israelites had journeyed through many different locations and experienced many different situations.

Physical life is a journey that begins at birth and ends when a person dies. Every person experiences this journey. The length of that journey is different for every person. Each one will live in different locations, eat different foods, work different jobs, experience different friends, and experience different situations.

Out of all the people some will add in a new journey that is not physical. This is a spiritual journey that comes from salvation in Jesus. This journey starts at different points for every person, but never comes to an end, going on for all eternity. Some start it at a very young age, while others start it at a much older age.

You have started this journey at some point in your life, when you gave your life over to Jesus. The locations on this journey are not physical. It is the changes you have made in your heart and life.

When you first started believing Jesus, you may not have given up all of the sins in your life. You most likely did not even know that some of what you were doing was sinful. As you grow and mature in Jesus, you learn to live more like Jesus every day.

Your heart begins to change. At different stages you learn different things, such as learning to forgive more, or love more, or hearing God’s voice, or being more of a witness. Each of these are different stages of the journey you are on until God calls you to step into eternity with Him in physical death.

Remember these stages of the journey. It helps you see where you have come from and keeps focus of where you are going. It will strengthen and encourage you.

I pray today that God will reveal to you the path He has for you; that you will remember what God has brought you through; that God will encourage and strengthen you for your journey; and that one day you will step into heaven for all eternity with God.

Acts 28:30-31 A Different End

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ–with all boldness and without hindrance! Acts 28:30-31

Paul had been sent to Rome by the authorities as a prisoner. All the way there he was listed as a prisoner. Once he got there he presented his case to the authorities. No one had followed along with him to dispute him or bring charges against him. Those in Rome chose to let him have his freedom. While there he boldly kept spreading the gospel message to those who had not heard it.

When the people had sent Paul to Rome, everything looked bad for him. There did not seem to be any hope or purpose. Yet Paul kept in mind the vision God had given him of preaching to the Romans. In the end that is exactly what he did.

In life God may have given you a vision for something. Hold on to it and go forward. As you are going forward there may come times of trouble, as happened to Paul having to be a prisoner. Being a prisoner is what gave him passage to the Romans. In fact, it was a government sponsored missions trip.

God uses everything to make you better and increase His kingdom. Some of those things are the troubles in life. Most people will not move unless forced to do so. God will use troubles to get you to where you are needed.

When you are in God’s will, the end will be much better then the journey looks. This is true in the here and now as it will be in the eternity. The end of this life brings eternal life in heaven. The end of a trouble here on earth can bring opportunity to spread the gospel to new people.

Stay focused on God’s desire for you. Keep on track with His journey for you. Do not lose faith or hope. Keep speaking His message.

I pray today that God will strengthen you in the path you are on; that you will trust God with His leading; that you will have a vision from God for His will; that you will be bold in being His witness; and that many will know Jesus through you.

John 8:23 Not of This World

“But he continued, You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” John 8:23

Jesus was starting to describe that He was getting ready to go away to a place that the people could not follow. The people thought that He was going to kill Himself. Now Jesus explained that He was from heaven, not the earth.

Being from heaven made a difference in the perspective Jesus had on life. He was able to look down and see the big picture. He knew God directly and knew what God wanted and was doing. He knew the value of heaven. He knew the futility of the things of this earth.

As a human, your view will be from the bottom looking up. Looking out into life on earth, things do not look very good. When something happens you do not understand. Giving up something looks like a high price to pay for something you cannot see–heaven.

The world will tell you that you must eat, drink and be merry now. You must be willing to indulge in any pleasure for yourself now. You must look out for yourself.

As a believer in Jesus your view of this world should be different. This world is here for you to use to get yourself through to heaven and to bring others with you to heaven.

Since you are now one with Jesus, you, as He is, are not of this world. Your focus should not be on just the here and now, but on the eternity in heaven.

Are you concerned with doing what your Father in heaven wants you to do? Are you concerned with living your life the way God wants you to live it?

Remember that as a believer in Jesus this world is not your final home. You are a pilgrim just passing through. Keep that in mind in your day-to-day struggles and challenges. Life will be challenging, but every journey has challenges, some exciting, some are boring, some are painful, but all are worth it in the end.

I pray that God will give you a vision of the glories of heaven; that God will fill you with His Holy Spirit to guide you; that you will keep your eyes on Jesus and heaven; that you will live in light of eternity in heaven; and that you will bring others with you.