Luck or God’s Grace?

Today, I was reflecting on St. Patrick’s Day which is tomorrow March 17.  Being part Irish, I am familiar with the custom of wearing green and pinching those who don’t.  My thoughts turned to how as a Christian, nothing is left up to luck, but God’s grace.

The Scripture that comes to mind is, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, but lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

It is by God’s grace, his unmerited favor, his love, his provision, that my life unfolds.  I have given my heart to Jesus as my Lord and Savior and I belong now to Him.  He promises to give us His free gift of grace, of salvation, forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.  If only we believe.

You might say it was ‘luck’ when in the throes of a clinical depression, at the lowest part of my life, that I found Jesus.  Or really, He found me. He saved my life and my soul from the darkness of a life of sin and deception.  When I surrendered my life to Him, I found my life, one I live by faith and trust in God now.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).

Which leads me to the Scripture in Proverbs.  When we trust God and turn over our problems and sorrows to Him, not counting on our own understanding about the issue, but acknowledging Him as the answer, He will direct our paths. I have seen this so many times in my life, once I gave up control of my life, and let Him lead.

Recently, I trusted Him to help me raise the money to attend this year’s Christian writing conference at Mt. Hermon Conference Center.  I felt his lead to write a letter to those close to me from my church family and God was faithful. I received the sponsors and donations I needed to go. In His timing and His way.

Do you trust God with your heart and your life?  Have you let go and surrendered your will to His will?  If you want the beautiful plan God has for your life, you need to do so.  If you are relying on ‘luck’, then you are at the mercy of this world, not of God, and He is the safest place to be.

Often, what you have thought of as ‘luck’ and coincidence has really been God operating on your behalf and goodwill.  You just didn’t know it. I even suggest it was not ‘luck’ that brought you to read this blog post, but God’s grace directing your path to find Him.

So, I am here to ask you today to consider how He has been wooing you to come follow Him, to allow Him to be your Lord and Savior. He has two beautiful gifts that don’t require any luck, just grace. A forgiven heart and a life spent in eternity with Him and your loved ones.

Can you trust Him right now?  If so, pray this prayer to turn your ‘luck’ into God’s favor in your life.

Dear Jesus:  I admit I am a sinner and need your free gift of grace.  I have been searching for luck when in reality I should have been searching for you.  I want to surrender my life to you as Lord and Savior, asking you to forgive my sins and give me eternal life.  I ask you to help me trust you and live by faith in you.  I trust your promise that by trusting in you, not in myself, you will guide my steps and life into your perfect plan.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen.

Congratulations!  Angels are dancing in Heaven to celebrate you being born again into the Kingdom of God!

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Cooking Middle Eastern Style: A Recipe for You!

One of my biggest joys these days is spending time in the kitchen cooking Middle Eastern food that I grew to love from my time in Israel. I discovered a wonderful cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi, who is a London restauranter, at a local bookstore.

Every week I have been making three different recipes, shopping for ingredients like eggplant, tahini paste and saffron and za’atar spices.  I remember walking through the souk or marketplace of the Old City of Jerusalem, where they sold spices in large barrels where I haggled over the prices.  Oh how I wish I could be there now.

My favorite memory of food during my time there was  lunch made by an Arab Christian cook at a local congregation in East Jerusalem.  Every Sunday, I would take the bus, looking forward to a homemade meal, something that was rare for us missionaries.  The cook would make Maqluba, a savory dish with chicken, eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower and rice.  He would cook it up in a big round pan and then, plop, dump it upside down unto a platter, and serve.  This was the traditional way of serving Maqluba and our mouths would water in anticipation.

On this rainy day in March, I am cooking Maqluba for the first time, hoping I don’t dump it all over the floor.  I wish I could invite you, my readers, to my home to taste it so you can celebrate this special dish.  Instead, I will share the recipe here with you for your own culinary efforts. Enjoy!

And stay tuned here on my blog for when I publish my book, Finding God in the Midst of My Mess, that includes my travels in Israel and my adventures in food!

Maqluba – reproduced from Jerussalem, A Cookbook, by Yotem Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

click here to see recipe

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