What’s Your Opportunity in Your Mess/ 

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

When I married in 2014, something happened to me I never thought would—and at one time I adamantly opposed: I became a bonus mom to five grown children. (Yes, five!)

Although each of my bonus kids are simply wonderful, blending families can sometimes be messy because it’s not God’s plan for infidelity, abandonment, abuse, or addictions to ruin marriages. His will is one man, for one woman, for life.

But praise God, He is always at work to bring healing and redemption to that which has been broken—including families!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11).

I have to admit that like many bonus moms, there have been moments I have felt insecure, when my feelings have gotten hurt, and I have doubted I will ever truly belong.

Thankfully the Lord has revealed to me that in difficult times, I have an opportunity: I can become a woman who trusts Him more fully, and relies on Him more faithfully. I have the opportunity to practice patience, and grace, and I have an awesome opportunity to love more amazing family members than ever before.

When life doesn’t work out like we plan, we all have the opportunity to respond in ways that are faith-filled or filled with unbelief. We can pitch a spiritual fit, or we can give in to God. We can scream, “My life was not supposed to be this way!” or we can ask, “Lord, how can I become more like you?” We can be victims or victors. We can languish in self-defeat or we can ask God what He wants us to learn, and how He wants to use us. We have two choices: trust or torment.

In the messy places when life doesn’t work out like we plan, we discover what we truly believe. Do I believe or am I just giving my faith lip service? Do I trust God? Am I convinced He is faithful and can work in any circumstance, not just in the plans I have made for a picture-perfect life? Do I truly believe that He is redemptive—and can redeem all things?

May you be encouraged today that He is at work in your life, no matter how messy it sometimes feels.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”(Isaiah 41:10).

Prayer: Lord, I praise you that there is no circumstance or mess that you cannot redeem. You are always at work to bring good out of bad. How awesome is that!? Thank you, Lord.

Application: What opportunities do you have, not in spite of what has happened in your life, but because of what has happened in your life?

Related Readings: Psalm 56:9; Isaiah 8:10; 1 Kings 8:57


5 Reasons Why Obedience Will Draw You Closer to God

Anyone who wants to know God—to walk closely with Him—must obey Him. Sounds like a strong statement, doesn’t it? But there is no way that we can come into a close relationship with the Lord, walk fully in THE BLESSING and enjoy the communion that our spirits desire without obeying Him.

If we will walk with Him, obey His Word, and follow the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit, then we will enjoy the close relationship that we desire and relish the benefits of that relationship. Here are five reasons why obedience will draw you closer to the Lord:

Reason No. 1: When you are obedient, you can walk with God.

No one can walk with God without being obedient. Just look at these three examples of people in the Old Testament who enjoyed walking closely with the Lord, and note how obedience played an important part in that relationship for each of them.

  1. Enoch

The Word records that “Enoch lived in close fellowship with God” for 300 years (Genesis 5:22)! Imagine spending 300 earthly years in close fellowship with the Lord—obeying His commands, learning His ways, and caring for the things that most concern Him. That was Enoch’s life. And the result? Scripture tells us that Enoch did not experience an earthly death. Instead, “he disappeared, because God took him” (verse 24).

  1. Noah

Noah lived during a dark time. Scripture tells us that evil had grown to such an extent on the earth that “the Lord was sorry he had ever made [humanity]” (Genesis 6:6).

Then He said He would “wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing” (verse 7). It was a desolate time, but then the Lord looked and saw Noah. The Word notes that “Noah found favor with the Lord” (verse 8). Instead of conforming to the wickedness of the civilization around him, Noah upheld morality and goodness. The result of Noah’s obedience was that he and his entire family were saved from the flood that destroyed every other living thing on earth.

  1. Adam

We all know about Adam’s failure, but consider his life before that detrimental mistake. He had walked in communion—daily relationship—with the Lord. God had breathed life into him (Genesis 2:7), set him in the magnificent Garden of Eden where all his needs were met (verse 15) and then gave him the privilege of naming all the animals (verse 19). That was the result of Adam’s obedience. He was set with a blessed life! In fact, his wife, Eve, was too. They only needed to continue to obey the Lord. Sadly, Adam followed the enemy’s voice instead and betrayed the trust that God had placed in him. That disobedience cost Adam big! He and Eve were thrown out of the Garden, forfeited THE BLESSING, and endured hardship the rest of their lives.

Reason No. 2: When you are obedient, you can obey God’s voice.

There are many good and kind people in the world who are without a relationship with the Lord and therefore cannot hear and follow His voice. As believers, we, on the other hand, have the ability to follow God and obey His voice. This is a privilege that belongs to His children. We can know His voice and nature through His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the wisdom He gives to other believers (i.e., pastors, ministers, mentors, prayer partners, godly friends, etc.).

Deuteronomy 4:5-6 says, “Look, I now teach you these decrees and regulations just as the Lord my God commanded me, so that you may obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy. Obey them completely, and you will display your wisdom and intelligence among the surrounding nations.”

When we follow God’s voice, we help others see His wisdom and hopefully draw them to Him, too.

Reason No. 3: When you are obedient, you will be blessed.

God promises that if we will obey Him, blessings will follow. Just look at these verses that show the connection between God’s BLESSING and obedience:

  • Joshua 1:8: “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and
    night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
  • Isaiah 1:19: “If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat.”
  • John 14:21: “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”

While God loves and shows favor to all of His children, Scripture is clear that there is an inherent blessing that comes as a result of obedience.

Reason No. 4: When you are obedient, you’re choosing God’s best.

God’s love for us is clear from the sacrifice He arranged through Jesus Christ. And by the power of His Holy Spirit, He drew us to Him and adopted us into His family. We can’t lose His love. But God is not a tyrant. He does not force His will on us. He always gives us the choice of whether to follow Him or not. If we follow Him, then we receive the privilege of THE BLESSING (see Reason No. 3). If we choose not to follow Him—to walk in disobedience—then we walk outside of that BLESSING. It’s our choice, one He has given to all His children throughout history.

“‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken’” (Isaiah 1:18-20)!

We may choose to blatantly disobey the Lord by rebelling against Him and His Word. This is the case when we turn our backs on the Word, follow our own ways and knowingly sin. However, not all obedience is active; some is passive. Passive disobedience is much subtler. It may be allowing old ways of thinking (i.e., worldly carnal thinking or religious mindsets) to seep into our thinking instead of basing our thoughts on God’s Word. Disobedience can even include holding on to misinformation or remaining ignorant of the things of God.

“How can we be held accountable for things we don’t know?” you might ask.

We can be because He has already given us His manual for living—His Word. We have the responsibility to open that Word, read it, meditate on it and allow it to shape our thinking. That is what obedience allows us—and requires us—to do.

Reason No. 5: When you are obedient, you’re trusting God to be God.

Obeying God means moving aside and allowing God—His Word, His Holy Spirit and His way of operating—to move in our lives. It means trusting (having faith) that He will be true to His Word. When we obey, we don’t try to control our lives and the situations around us by our own human strength. Instead, we focus on the Lord by keeping Him and His Word before our eyes and allowing Him to have His way and trusting that He will fulfill His promises.

We cannot claim to love God without obeying Him and His Word. Let’s commit to obey Him with heartfelt love and show an appreciation for all He has done for us. We serve a big, magnificent, awe-inspiring God. Let’s obey Him immediately and wholeheartedly so we can walk with Him closely and enjoy the benefits of our obedience!

God Has Heard My Prayer

Let My Words Be Few

God is in Heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Ever get so carried away talking to God that you realize you didn’t spend any time listening to Him? Yes, your heavenly Father wants to hear from you. He desires you to be open and honest with Him.

He cares about your hurts and disappointments, even your disappointments in Him. You can spill your heart to Him. Yet heeding Solomon’s words is wise.

Solomon reminds us that we should make listening a priority.

God longs to hear from us (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 88:2; Luke 18:1), but He also wants us to hear from Him (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

We have the privilege of prayer only because He grants us access, so we should not approach Him with hollow words, frivolous or rote prayers, or promises made lightly.

Prayer is an intimate conversation with God and should be treated as such.

Letting your words “be few” can help you pray more simply and sincerely. It can also help you be more attentive to whatever He wants you to hear Him say.

Share your heart with God, but save some time to listen with your soul.

“I pray to God to know Him, to find direction for my life, and to lay my requests before Him.”


A Personal Conversation

I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:12

Sometimes we just need to get something off our chest. We need to vent and process. After we do, we tend to feel better.
In Psalm 77, Asaph unloaded or — to use a biblical word — lamented.

We find anguish and grief in Psalm 77:7–9:

Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever?… Has God forgotten to be merciful?”

Asaph didn’t hold back!

But we also see in verse 12 above that, as he vented and ranted, Asaph came to remember who God is and what He had done for him. The same can happen to you. You can start by sharing your pain with God, but as you talk to Him, you will be reminded of who He is and all He has done for you. You’ll see His good involvement in your life, and your lamentations will become declarations of hope and trust. After all, prayer is not to be some kind of eloquent performance.

Prayer is a personal conversation with your heavenly Father who loves you.

Don’t hesitate to lament and vent. But like Asaph, choose to consider God’s good works in your life and meditate on His mighty deeds.

Godly Goal Setting 

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ Luke 13:32

Goal-setting was a part of Christ’s thinking. First and foremost His goal was to do the will of His heavenly Father. This is the goal that got Him out of bed in the morning. It was a joint mission with the Holy Spirit. His goal was also to serve the people. He cast out demons, healed, and taught. Jesus was a focused individual with specific goals in mind.

His example is a model for goal-setting; so keep God and people the priorities. If you set no goals, you will reach them every time. If you do set goals, you will reach some, modify others, and miss a few. For the extremely thorough and cautious temperament, it is hard to plan toward something, and not see it accomplished. However, this is part of trusting God to help you meet necessary goals and wait on others.

On the other hand, there are some personalities that set too many unrealistic goals. Yes, all things are possible with God, but not to the point of irresponsible planning. Too many goals can overwhelm you and water down your effectiveness in reaching the right ones. This is where prayer is critical in goal-setting.

Ask God what His best is for your life. Ask Him how to pace yourself over the long term, so your family develops robustly and your health is enhanced in the process. Goals are a guide to be adjusted daily, weekly, monthly, and annually depending on their nature and the timing of their necessity and implementation. There is a logical flow in goal-setting. Make sure your goals flow out of your God-given purpose.

If your purpose is to glorify God by being a faithful husband, an available father, a loyal friend, and a loving leader, then start there. Let your purpose statement be a filter for your goal-setting. If a goal does not pass muster with your purpose, then omit it and move on. Goals are not meant to be barnacles that slow down your life ship. Goals are meant to free you up to focus on God’s will. Goals are like billowing, white sails powered by the winds of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s empowerment moves you forward by faith.

Daily time with God is a good goal. A regular marriage conference and marriage teaching with your spouse is a good goal. Give 10% and save 10% is a good goal. Using your work as a platform for ministry is a good goal. Exercising three times a week and eating a balanced diet are good goals. You may even have a God-given goal to travel around the world. Go for it! Write down what God is putting in your heart. Set a timetable that is not so rigid that it cannot be adjusted. God works through goals, so be a prayerful goal-setter, and watch Him work. You may be surprised what He can accomplish through you. Simply writing down your goals may give you just the needed inspiration and accountability to attempt great things for God. Prayerfully set goals and watch Him work.

The Bible says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me courage and wisdom to set goals pleasing to You.

Application: What big goal do I need to trust the Lord to accomplish in His timing?