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Is there racial discrimination in the Bible?  To the best of my Biblical knowledge, the answer is ‘no’.  

In the ancient days of the Israelites, when God was trying to ‘raise’ the Israelites as his Holy people, there were numerous times when He instructed them to completely stay away from other tribes of people.  He forbid inter-marriage with people from other tribes and religions.  HOWEVER, He didn’t make these commands because of racial differences.  God commanded the Israelites to avoid those who were evil in their ways and/or who participated in pagan worship.  He was trying to keep His chosen people pure and not allow them to be influenced by those who worshiped idols or took part in evil and sinful behaviors. 

God’s protectiveness of the Israelites continued until they returned to Jerusalem after their time in exile.  While in exile, foreigners lived in their land.  When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem, God instructed them to live amongh the other peoples to be a light among them.  No longer were they being asked separate themselves from people of other tribes, countries, or religions.  Now they were to live among people of differences and share their Holy faith with them. 

This took place in the Old Testament before Jesus existed on earth.  I view God’s command for the Israelites to live among others so that they could be a light unto them as being the Old Testament version of the Great Commission. 

NOTE:  In the New Testament, Christians are commanded to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people, reaching out to the far corners of the world.  This command is called the Great Commission.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus sent His apostles to lead the way in the Great Commission.  I’m not aware of any situation where either Jesus or His apostles discriminated against who could/should receive the Good News. 

 Jesus, himself, walked among people of various nationalities and backgrounds. 

The Holy Spirit sent Philip to travel along a desert road where he met a man (a eunuch) from Ethiopia who was the Treasurer to the Queen of Ethiopia.  As the Ethiopian rode in his carriage, he was trying to read from the Book of Isaiah.  The Holy Spirit instructed Philip to walk alongside the carriage.  When he did so, Philip noticed the man reading scriptures.  Philip was able to help the man understand the verses he was reading and also shared the Good News about Jesus! The man was so inspired that he asked to be baptised along the side of the road where water was found.  (Acts 8:28-40)

Do you see what happened?  The Holy Spirit of God Almighty sent one of His believers to share the Good News with an influential man from Ethiopia.  Why?  1) Because the Good News is for EVERYONE (no racial discrimination), and 2) so that the Good News could be spread to the Ethiopian people (again, no racial discrimination).

I’m not a Bible expert.  I’m a Bible expert wanna-be, so PLEASE correct me if I’m mistaken in anything I’ve written here.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purposes for them.     – Romans 8:28

In my previous post I wrote about a big disappointment I experienced.  An untimely infection kept me from taking our sons back to Indiana to visit  grandparents and my husband’s sister and her family.  We were packed and excited about going, then had to cancel at the last minute.  I tried postponing our departure, but still couldn’t go. 

I trust there’s a reason why it was best that we didn’t go.  So far I don’t know what exactly that reason was, maybe I never will, but we made the best of our situation and I found unexpected blessings by the end  of the week.   Here are a few of those blessings:

1)  We had an unexpected stay-cation at home!  Since we’d planned to be out of town, we had 5 days at home with no appointments or commitments!  It was great to sleep as late as we wanted, have relaxed mornings, and spend each day as we pleased!

2) Since I’d done all the laundry getting ready for the trip, I had two days off from laundry when we stayed home!  Nice!

3) We got excellent rest and relaxation – more so than if we’d been busy visiting family.

4) We didn’t have to be away from my husband. He wasn’t going to be able to join us on the trip because of his work, and I was wishing he couldn’t travel with us.  Since we stayed home, we didn’t have to be apart after all!  (We might have affected his plans of staying home and getting caught up on work, though!  Oh, well!)

5) I cleaned out some drawers, spent time programming my new cell phone  (Btw…the Palm Pre is an awesome phone!), and taking care of other things that I’m usually too busy to do. 

6) I had long phone calls with some loved ones I hadn’t talked with for a while- something else I don’t usually have time to do. 

7) We saved lots of travel money!! 

8 ) Because I was trying to get well, I had to take it easy and give myself a much-appreciated break from busyness and physical exertion – no vacumming!   

9) My Dad said he and Carolyn would come see us since we couldn’t go see them!  That’s a HUGE blessing because he doesn’t want to travel anymore.  He hasn’t been here for over 5 years.  It will be WONDERFUL having them here.  We’d have only been able to see them for 1 day in Indiana, but they’ll have several days here.  They can visit the boys’ schools and go to their ball games.  I can cook for them and we can visit area restaurants, too.  This will be so much better.  Now I just have to keep praying that Dad will be able to travel.    SPECIAL FYI:  This is especially appreciated because I haven’t seen my Dad since Feb of 08.  It crushed me to know that I’d have to wait indefinitely to see him.  I wanted him to see the boys, too.  They’ve grown up so much since my Dad and his wife saw them.

10) I got to express to my Dad just how much I love him and miss him when I tearfully called to say we wouldn’t be coming.  I always tell him I love him when we talk, but this time the emotions were overflowing and he realized just how much he means to me. 

There were blessings in the bummer, indeed.  Probably most bummers have blessings, we just have to be aware of them.

Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite verses.  God played it out for me this past week.  And something tells me there were other blessings that weren’t apparent to me.  God is good!  That’s for sure!

I woke up at 2:30 a.m. in great discomfort.  The antibiotics I’d started yesterday weren’t helping.  I was much worse.  I began to cry as I realized I would be unable to travel to Indiana today as planned.  The boys and I only had a few days, so it was going to be a quick trip to visit family – my Dad and his wife on Friday, then my husband’s sister and her family on Saturday when we’d have fun with my 3-year old nephew, then drive home on Sunday.  We didn’t get to make this trip last summer, so I’ve been especially anxious and excited to get there.  It’s been way too long since I’ve seen my Dad and he’s seen his grandsons; and my boys were looking forward to having playing with their little cousin on Saturday.  We were even going to surprise him by taking the little motorized John Deere truck my boys have outgrown.  The thought of missing out on all that added to the sickness I already felt. 

I was up for an hour before my physical discomfort subsided enough that I could try to go back to sleep.  As I crawled into bed, my tears started up again.  This time they were ‘pity party’ tears.  Why is there always something wrong with me?  Why do I have to miss so many things because of health issues?  Why did I have to miss another trip back to Indiana?  Why….?    I looked at the clock.  It was 3:16.  The numbers jumped out at me…3:16…John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…”  Yes, that’s an amazing statement of God’s love, but what did that have to do with me at that moment?  Then I recalled the other half of that verse. “…so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”   Ok.  That’s an amazing promise of salvation, but again what does that have to do with me right now?  Why is that verse  jumping out at me?  My mind zoomed in on the words “…will not perish but have eternal life.”   God was breaking up my ‘pity party to say, “Renee, this is not something serious.  Yes, you have frequent ailments and problems, but they won’t cause you’re not about to perish!  And in the end, you have eternal life with Me to look forward to!”  Yep, He was right.  As disappointed as I was about not going to Indiana, there was nothing seriously wrong with me.  Praise for that!  As frustrating as frequent ailments and minor health problems are…they’re just that – minor!  The best part of all?  I might not get to see my earthly Dad tomorrow, but there’s a heavenly Dad whose visit is guaranteed!  God willing we’ll all unite there one day and no will have ailments or health problems of any kind! 

My pity party was over.  Thank You, God!  My thoughts turned to giving Him thanks for caring enough to comfort me at 3:16 in the morning. 

God often speaks to me in the 3:00 a.m. hour, usually around 3:30 a.m.   Maybe it’s because the world around me is completely quiet and peaceful at that time.  Usually aroused from sleep, my mind is clear and open, not cluttered and busy like it usually is during the course of my days.  

It’s now 11:35 a.m.  I’m still disappointed we can’t go to Indiana as planned, but for some reason, that’s the way it is.  No pity parties for me, though.  I’d rather use my time and thoughts in more purposeful ways, like remembering how awesome my Heavenly Father is and how thankful I am for the things that really matter.

Do you ever wonder if you’re capable of doing the tasks before you?  Or question whether or not you’re worthy to do God’s work?  Do you compare yourself to others and think that surely you’re ‘not good enough’ if you’re not like them? 

 If you relate to these questions, then maybe you’ll find encouragement in my devotion ” Be Big!”, published today by Proverbs 31 Ministries.  You can find it at www.Proverbs31.org .    While you’re at the site, you might want to sign up for a FREE online subscription to receive their “Encouragement for Today” devotions every day!   I look forward to receiving mine every morning! 

God bless you as you find ways to “Be Big!” for God!

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.    – 1 Peter 5:7

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live…Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.      – Psalm 116:1-2, 5

Some people wonder how Christians can be believers.  If asked why or how I believe, my response is that I know how I’ve been blessed- how my life is blessed – since I started living in faith.  Nothing else I’ve ever done or believed has had the impact on my life that God has.  He is there.  He does things!  Today was one of those amazing times when He proved His presence in my life.

I recently witnessed a situation that wasn’t right.  It troubled me.  At 3:44 a.m. I woke up thinking about it.  I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t.  My mind was stuck on this situation.  It needed to be addressed.  I started making a mental check-list of the issues that bothered me; then I started considering what I could say or do regarding these things.  With thoughts finally in place I tried and tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t.  I’d been awake an hour!  It was almost 5:00 a.m.!  Desperate to have a little more sleep I silently cried out to God, “Lord, what else do I need to do about this?  Why can’t I go to sleep?”  Then I realized my mistake.  I’d spent an hour of precious sleep time wrestling with my thoughts as a lone wrangler.  Instead of turning things over in my mind, I needed to turn them over to God. 

I prayed out the situation to God, and instead of coming up with everything I needed to say and do, I left it up to God to determine those things.  Even though I’d developed strong feelings about how I needed to take care of things, as I prayed I realized God was waiting for me to trust HIM to take care of things.  What peace this brought!  Why hadn’t I realized this sooner? 

Having given it all up to God and trusting Him to handle the situation as He saw fit, I fell right to sleep!   But that’s not the happy ending.  It gets better.

Later in the day God showed me how He’d rectified the situation – beautifully, I might add – and without any involvement from me. 

Do you see how He blessed me in this situation?  Knowing I was troubled He stayed with me until I gave it all up to Him.  He didn’t let me take matters into my own hands.  If I had, I’d have surely messed things up and maybe even made things worse!  AND…not only did He take care of the situation, He also allowed me to be blessed by the outcome.  What a sweet Lord we have!

The most awesome part about all of this is that I never uttered a word of what I was thinking and feeling.  God knew what was in my heart.  He heard and answered my silent prayers.  NO ONE knew the concerns I had.  Only Him.  And He acted on them.  Praise be to God! 

Dear Lord, Thank You for always being there, for tending to the matters of my heart, and for the peace You give when I’m in step with You.  Thank You for not letting me rest (literally!) until I’d responded in faith and put my trust in You.  Thanks also for the added blessings of knowing how well You took care of things.  You truly are an awesome God!   As long as I have breath, I will praise Your holy name!  Amen. 

You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds.  – Psalm 65:5

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