God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Thursday, April 25, 2024

A Betrayed Woman Finds Hope and Courage


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

Intrigue, suspense, deception, rape, betrayal…and murder.

Does this sound like the scene from a crime documentary?

Would you believe a biblical cliffhanger?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Trusting God's Provision in the Middle of Famine


by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta

No rain for three years.

The woman looked out the door at the cloudless sky and back at the hard, dry ground. No one could remember the last time a stalk of wheat had grown out of the soil. A spear of hopelessness stabbed her soul. She wasn’t so concerned about herself, but she didn’t want to watch her child die of starvation. Her husband perished, now so did the food. 

How could she trust God’s faithfulness? Her emotions were as dry as the ground outside.

The woman reached toward the bin of flour. Only a handful left, and just enough oil to make a paste. One more meal and death would win.

All she knew to do was what she did every day. She went outside and picked up sticks for a fire.

As she did so, a shadow passed between her and the ground. She looked up and saw a stranger.

“Bring me some water,” he said.

She stared at him for a moment. Didn’t this man know how scarce water was? No rain in ages made water more valuable than gold. But something within her heart urged her on.

She walked toward her house for a cup and heard the man’s voice ask for more. “Also bring me some bread.” Now he’s done it. Not even enough for herself and her son and this man wants to take it.

Then she remembered the message she received from Yahweh. He had told her to feed someone that would be directed to her (1 Kings 17:9).

Would this man be the provision in the middle of this famine?

“I don’t have bread, only some oil and flour, barely enough for me and my son. After that, we’ll die because there is no more.”

Elijah the prophet answered her, “Do not fear, make me a cake first and then there will be some for you and your son. The flour and oil will not run out until the Lord sends rain on the earth.”

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days (1 Kings 17:15 NKJV).

The story of the widow of Zarephath reminds me of the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

The great Jehovah never failed throughout the Bible and He doesn’t fail now. This woman listened to the word of the prophet Elijah. Because she obeyed what she heard, she saw God provide for her and her son. Later when the boy was severely sick and died, she had opportunity to be afraid and doubt. But the widow remembered what the Lord God had done for her in the past and she called out to the prophet. Her child was restored to life.

The world is dark. When all we focus on are the tragedies and evil this planet produces, our souls can fall away from hope (Proverbs 13:12). This widow faced a famine so severe, without supernatural intervention she and her son would die.

But the King of kings is full of light and hope.

So why do we see the famine instead of the provision as the widow woman did at first?

Because we look elsewhere. The situations we face are exalted above the faithfulness of our Father. She saw the dry ground and the empty bin. We feel dry, hopeless hearts and empty souls because of life’s pain and lack.

We know God is big, but we see His greatness as out in the vast beyond instead of here and now with us.

As the song says, “As thou hast been thou forever will be.”

He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together (Colossians 1:17 TLB).

I will worship toward your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name. (Psalm 138:2 NKJV).

God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the power of his command (Hebrews 1:3 TLB).

Psalm 138 says His Word is above His name. God cannot go against His word or the universe would explode. If the faithfulness of God’s power holds the universe together, why can’t we trust Him to hold us together?

The widow of Zarephath listened to God’s words through Elijah. She stopped seeing the famine and saw the power of provision.

We can follow her example as we:

Read portions of scripture that tell us how powerful God is. Genesis chapters one and two show us the power of creation; Revelation chapter one depicts the majesty of the risen Christ.

Listen to praise music. This sets the tone for worship and puts our mind on God.

Rehearse the ways He has been faithful in the past. Perspective changes to the promises of God instead of the limitations in our minds.

Above all, the Savior is faithful to forgive.

The Father is devoted to us in everyday life. His faithfulness does not depend upon our emotions.

God is bigger and more powerful than anything we can face. When we exalt that truth above our problems, the influence of circumstances over our lives will shrink. (click to tweet)

How do you show your trust in God in the middle of life's famines? Share your thoughts.


Thursday, April 4, 2024

Living with Graceful Influence through Women Who Left a Lasting Impact

 by Barbara Latta

Recently an author I love and respect released a new book, Graceful Influence, Making a Lasting Impact through Lessons from the Women of the Bible.

How is this book different from others that highlight the lives of biblical women?

The contrasts and comparison Lori Roeleveld shares reveal parts of these women’s lives we may have never thought about. We may have even forgotten some of these characters existed because their roles in the historical account is minor, but the impact they left deeply affected others. 

Consider the impact the woman who anointed Jesus with costly oil made, not only to Jesus, but also to those around her as you read this excerpt from Graceful Influence. The bold highlights are my emphasis.

Simon was hosting a dinner, and Jesus and His disciples were present with him there in Bethany. It was just before Passover, and soon swelling crowds would congest the streets of nearby Jerusalem. The room buzzed with guests reclining at the table. People of fine reputation served the meal. Everyone’s focus was on the honored guest, the rabbi from Galilee. One woman walked past them all, guests and servers, her attention entirely on Jesus. When she reached Him, she broke open an alabaster flask of costly, pure nard. Nard (or spikenard) is an oil derived from a plant in the honeysuckle family. It’s amber colored, with a musky, woodsy scent. The contents of this woman’s flask were aromatic and of great worth, the equivalent of almost a year’s wages, perhaps representing her dowry or her life’s savings.

Nard is mentioned in the Song of Solomon. The bride says, “While the king was on his couch, my nard gave forth its fragrance” (Song of Solomon 1:12). Pretty romantic imagery.

Later, the bridegroom lavishly describes the scents of nard and saffron which emanated from his bride (Song of Solomon 4:11–14).

The love this woman demonstrated at Simon’s feast was a costly risk, economically and socially, but she concentrated on the only One in the room who mattered to her. Jesus who forgives sins. Jesus who heals diseases. Jesus who announces the kingdom of God. She probably wasn’t trying to be significant but was simply expressing her devotion to Jesus.

This was a wildly intimate moment that created discomfort in Simon and the guests as she anointed Jesus’s head with oil. It’s fair to imagine they were familiar with the poetry of Solomon’s love story. Did the references spring to mind, increasing their unease?

The disciples challenged the woman. “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8). These men appreciated the value of the oil. They knew of Jesus’s love for the disadvantaged, so they scolded her. “This could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor” (v. 9).

Jesus scolded them back. Of course, care for the poor. Care for the poor whenever you like. They will always be with you. But, He explained, He would not always be with them. This woman had, in her devotion, anointed Him for His burial. “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (v. 13).

Her demonstration of love not only ministered to Jesus but also unintentionally exposed the hearts of others. She didn’t preach a sermon. She simply acted on her love without concern about who was watching, and her love became a searchlight that revealed the shadows lurking in their hearts.

Her choice to publicly express her love for Jesus without shame or self-concern remains a beacon for us, shining across cultures and years. This woman showed us that the path to a lasting impact for Jesus begins with single-minded attention to and love for Him.

The actual reach of our witness is, like hers, often hidden from our sight. For while some are called to global ministries, many more of us are called to a more local influence. Like the Israelites rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall in Nehemiah’s day, we too are asked to guard and build our own small section of the “gospel wall” in God’s kingdom. We are divinely appointed to humble days, small scopes, and the mystery of God at work in the ordinary.

In God’s kingdom, it’s not only those who accomplish “great things” that have a powerful influence for Christ. It is also those who contribute their widow’s mite of devotion, who open their single alabaster jar out of love for Jesus, teaching children, visiting the lonely, building sets for Christmas plays, planting trees, or generously supporting ministries to people they may never meet on earth.

What we see about having a graceful influence from the woman with the alabaster jar is fourfold.

First, graceful influence begins with forgetting ourselves and focusing on Jesus. The devoted woman risked the disapproval and rejection of those gathered to demonstrate her love for Jesus.

Second, influence for God isn’t limited by gender. From the opening of Scripture to the close, God demonstrates that men and women have equal opportunity. Both can sin in ways that have lasting negative effects. And both have equal opportunity for redemption in Christ and inclusion in the work of proclaiming His kingdom until He comes. The Holy Spirit is the power behind our lives, and He is not limited by anything about us— not our ethnicity, economic status, appearance, gender, worldly status, or age.

Third, graceful influence involves doing what we can do for Him, not what we can’t. This woman offered Jesus what she had. She probably wasn’t trying to do something that would become a story told to every generation to come. She just expressed love the way she knew how to express it, pouring out what she valued most onto the One she valued above all. We all have unique gifts and ways of expressing ourselves. This variety was God’s design so we can lean into Him in love.

Finally, it’s God who determines the scope of our influence. No one in that room appeared terribly impressed with what this woman had done. In fact, because her giving illuminated the selfishness of their lives, they probably wished she’d kept her gift to herself. I’m guessing they didn’t want this story recorded.

Jesus is the one who determined this would be a story told through the generations. He is also the one who determines the impact of our lives, our stories. When Jesus is central, our ministry can be as far-reaching as a powerful fragrance released from its broken container.

We are, after all, the aroma of Christ. “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16)

In life, as in that room, our love poured out for Jesus will be a sweet aroma to those open to Jesus’s love, but an unpleasant odor to those resisting the repentance to which He calls us. As our lives, out of love for Jesus, are broken and poured out for Him, we become the precious nard that is the aroma of Christ.

The lasting effect of this aroma will be life for all who are being saved.

Lori ends each chapter with a biblical challenge of Scriptures and an application for the battles we face, but win, through Christ.

I found so much encouragement from reading Graceful Influence, and I think you will too. This book is available to order now. Once you read the book, please do the author a favor and leave a review on Amazon. You can find out more about Lori at her website https://loriroeleveld.com/

Join the conversation and share your thoughts.


Find out how biblical women can impact your life through Graceful Influence, Making a Lasting Impact through Lessons from the Women of the Bible by @lorisroeleveld



Image by bess.hamiti@gmail.com from Pixabay