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THE BEST CATALOG EVER

Bob lost his job this week. The company went through another round of lay-offs and this time Bob was caught in the crossfire. It did not come as a huge shock. Bob had been warning me for almost two months that it still could happen, but still, when he gave me a heads-up a few days earlier, I have to admit, a prickle of fear went down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Tuesday he called and said it had indeed happened, and he was on his way home.
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By that time, I took it pretty well. Oh, I got a little teary-eyed when I called a couple people to tell them, and they, of course, were very sympathetic. That tone of voice does it to me every time! We live by faith, however, and it was time to put my money (or lack of it, I should say!) where my mouth is. Besides, when my husband leads the way and proclaims, from his heart, that he is excited and looking with expectancy to see what God is going to do next in our lives – where He will lead us, how He will provide – then, it is an encouragement to me to just let go, and let God work.
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It wasn’t three hours later when the Lord had something wonderful to say to me! The mail came, and as is usual at this time of year, there was yet another catalog in the mail. How I ever got on so many mailing lists I’ll never know, because I almost never order from catalogs. I enjoy looking at them, but when it comes to actually parting with my money and – horror of horrors! – paying shipping and handling, I can never quite bring myself to do it. But here was a new catalog – one I had never seen before.
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Hmm, this looks different, I thought as I sat down to take a quick peek at it. “Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog.” They must be selling things made by people around the world to help support themselves. I wonder what neat little trinkets are in this catalog.
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That’s not what that catalog was about at all. As I thumbed through the pages I began to see that it was not filled with things that I could buy for myself, or my friends and family. Rather, its pages featured things like a dozen baby chicks, emergency medicine, Bibles, a fishing boat, dairy animals, a month of Bible training for a future national preacher, water filters, blankets, mosquito netting, fruit trees, food to feed a family for a month, milk to help a baby for a week, and so on… Forty-eight different things I could “buy” to make a difference in someone else’s life, physically and/or spiritually, who has nothing by this world’s standards.
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I began to bawl like a baby as I looked at that catalog. The Lord was saying to me, “You see – you have so much compared to the rest of the world, Cindy! You have a warm roof over your head. You have food on your table – too much food. You have clean water. You have health care available to you. Even without a job now, you and Bob have help available to you and you will get through this. You have the love and support of family, friends and your brothers and sisters in the Lord. You have My Word freely and abundantly available to you! And greatest gift of all – you are My child through the salvation freely given in Jesus Christ! Do you see how rich you are? Do you see how I have blessed you?
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There is not a day that goes by for many years now that I have not praised the Lord for how He has blessed us, and realized that by the standards of most of the rest of the world, we are very rich, indeed. On this day, though, when the temptation was great to be fearful and worry about how we would pay the bills, I really needed that visual message to take the focus off of our problems and to just praise the Lord for His blessings in our lives. That little catalog brought comfort to me that day.
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It also brought conviction. My first inclination was to regretfully think, Oh, I wish I could “buy” some of these things! But with Bob losing his job today, we just can’t. Of all the days for this catalog to come! We will have to be careful with our money now. We already support two missionaries as well as our church, and we are determined that their support will not suffer. Whatever the Lord brings in, we will give from that, even if it is just the “widow’s mite.”
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The Lord had something more to say to me, though.
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Give to these who have nothing EVER. NOTHING day after day, for year after year. Give out of gratitude for all that you have even in your poorest moments.
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Give out of faith that I will provide your needs and even many of your wants for as long as it takes. Depend on Me – not job security.
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Give because you love Me and I have commanded you to give to those in need so that they may see My love in their lives, as well.
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Give beyond what you are giving now. Give and watch Me give back – watch with excitement and expectancy! You cannot out-give Me!
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And so we will pick something, or several somethings, from this little catalog to give to someone who has nothing.
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I do not share this looking for praise for ourselves, but as a praise to the Lord, and as a reminder to all of us to take the focus off our own problems and seeming “lacks,” and rather remember how truly blessed we are and that out of our abundance, we can surely give a little more.
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Some of the Scriptures I found in the “best catalog ever:”
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But you see the trouble and grief…The helpless put their trust in You. You defend the orphans. Psalm 10:14
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Help Him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy. Psalm 72:4a
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He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. Psalm 72:12
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For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:9
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But You are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. Isaiah 25:4a
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He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18
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Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27
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It’s been a great week! Within hours of Bob losing his job, we began to see how the Lord would provide for our needs. We’ve been praising the Lord! We have actually been worry-free. Wow! Who would have “thunk it!” We ask for your prayers, though, for we know we are human and the seeds of doubt and worry could start creeping in, but we pray we will just keep trusting the Lord and living by faith day by day, not in word only, but truly in deed.
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And just in case you would like to take a look at this “best catalog ever,” you can receive a copy by calling Samaritan’s Purse at 1-800-353-5957, or you can download it at
www.samaritanspurse.org
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