When God Finally Gives You Want You’ve Begged For

Remember that some of the Lord's most gracious answers are nos.

Got any unanswered prayers? That may be a good thing. Sometimes the only thing worse than God refusing to give us what we want occurs when He gives us want we want. 

When God Gives You Want You've Begged For

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Many years ago, our young daughter had only one thing on her mind.

She knew we planned an Easter egg hunt, and she asked if she could eat lots of candy on Easter. We told her no, but she kept after us, day after day. Easter came and she continued to plead. So we decided to let her learn by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. We let her eat as many little chocolate eggs as she wanted.

That night was pitiful.

“Oooooh, mommy, my tummy hurts!” She had learned by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. My toddler’s lesson gets repeated in the life of most of us adults.

But it doesn’t have to.

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God’s Incredible Plan Includes Your Ordinary Days

The Dothan Valley shows how our God wastes no experience in our lives.

Sometimes the ordinary days make us wonder if God has forgotten us. After all, when we read the Bible (or Facebook), it all seems so exciting. God is working! Our lives, on the other hand, seem exceedingly boring.

Your Natural Stuff in God's Marvelous Plan

(Photo: Dothan Valley, where Joseph’s brothers sold him. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But the events in Joseph’s ordinary day in the Dothan Valley revealed God behind the scenes.

Jacob’s 10 oldest sons had traveled north to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. So Jacob dispatched Joseph, whom he loved more than all his other sons, from the Valley of Hebron to check on their welfare.

When Joseph arrived, he found that his brothers had moved further north to the lush pastures of Dothan. Seeing him in the distance, the brothers—jealous of their father’s love for Joseph—purposed to kill the boy. But the presence of a nearby cistern convinced them instead to hurl Joseph into it—and leave him there to die (see Genesis 37:12-28).

It seemed that God dropped the ball. But His painful providence would prove wiser than Joseph’s limited insight.

The same is true for you. God uses your ordinary days in His marvelous plan.

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The Amazing Blessing of Your Average Life

Sometimes the blessing comes with a simple change of perspective.

Would you say your life is average? More ho-hum than awesome? You’re not alone. You’ve probably noticed, but very few people attain stardom status in life. That’s probably a good thing

The Amazing Blessing of Your Average Life

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Solomon’s words, “money is the answer to everything,” come from an earthly perspective (Ecc. 10:19). Among the rich and famous, so few find satisfaction—even in their success.

For some reason, it seems uncommon for exceptional lives to handle success well. Perhaps because success ranks just as much a test of character as does poverty. Maybe more.

Have you ever considered the blessing of being average?

It may surprise you.

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God’s Amazing Goals for Your Life Begin Here

The small things we do matter to God.

Sometimes the dreams and goals you have for life are good goals—even godly goals—but just not God’s goals. Your expectations of life are just that—yours. God has His own set of plans, and He isn’t telling.

God's Goals for Your Life Begin Here

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God may lead you initially one direction simply to take you another.

  • He may give you a vision as a single, or for a family, or for a ministry only so that He can sanctify you by his grace in experiencing a slammed door.
  • Slammed doors do more than bend your nose; they keep your heart pliable, sensitive, and available to God’s leading.

Not only does He keep secret the difficult valleys you’ll experience (and many of the mountaintops), but also the tremendous lessons you’ll glean no other way. Lessons you didn’t know you needed to learn. Lessons you’ll thank Him for one day.

Very often, we fail to recognize God using us significantly because we define God “using us” in terms of what we consider significant: results.

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How to Discover the Secret to a Lasting Satisfaction

How do we deal with the futility of life when the satisfaction always fades?

Have you ever noticed how we dedicate so much time and money to feed feelings that last only a moment? Think about your upcoming weekend for a moment and see if it isn’t true.

The Secret to a Lasting Satisfaction

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  • We pay five dollars for a cup of coffee we drink in five minutes.
  • We long for that glorious vacation but come home in a week to face the same daily grind.
  • We plunk down twenty bucks for a movie (and even more for popcorn), and it’s over in two hours.
  • We enjoy the zing of a new relationship or a new church fellowship only to discover it’s just like the last one.

Nothing wrong with any of these activities, per se. But when joy and satisfaction in life elude us, we need to ask an obvious question with a not-so-obvious answer: How do we deal with the futility of life when my satisfaction always fades?

Eventually we figure out we can’t exist for the next relationship or vacation or pat on the back. Instead, we need to learn to live for what never fades and what always satisfies.

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How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

The silent, unseen essentials of what makes life really matter.

After my grandfather died years ago, I planted an oak tree in his memory in our front yard. The skinny stem stood only 6 feet tall (like Granddad did). I planted it on a windy day.

How to Get Your Roots to Reach Deep

(By Almonroth. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A few hours later, my neighbor hollered: “Hey, Wayne, your tree was really leaning over in the wind!” I grabbed the trunk and slightly bent the tree over. The whole base moved, because it had no root system yet. So I staked it down.

Two years later when I bent the tree, the base didn’t move. But you know what? The tree looked the same. No visible change. Its goal for its first two years was its roots, not its limbs and leaves.

That little sprig offers a contrast (and a lesson) to you and me.

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The Secret to Walking the Path of Wisdom

The practical book of Proverbs makes it clear.

The first steps we take in a decision often make sense. But the connection between those steps and their final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom has a domino effect far greater than we can imagine.

The Secret to Walking the Path of Wisdom

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For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom. But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction.

The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.

Here’s how.

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How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Going

Remember that any victory presupposes a struggle in your life.

You’re not stuck. If God has you in a place where your gifts are not fully utilized, or if you feel set aside in God’s grand plan, or if those around you have marginalized you, trivialized you, or flat-out rejected you, I understand how tough that is.

How to Keep Going When You Can’t Keep Going

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But you’re not stuck. God isn’t done with you. (If he were, you’d be dead.)

Here’s what perseverance looks like when you can’t keep going.

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Israel’s International Highway—A Picture of Your Influence

Always ask yourself: Who is influencing whom?

Where God places us is no accident. Throughout biblical history, the land of Israel sat in an amazingly strategic position as the only intercontinental land bridge between the superpowers of the ancient world.

The most important international highway of the Fertile Crescent ran the length of the land of Israel.

The Via Maris Highway—Israel's Picture of Your Influence

(Photo: The Via Maris ran beside ancient Tel Hazor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call this international highway the Via Maris, or the “Way of the Sea.” Any nation coming to or from Egypt, or traveling from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Aqaba, had to go through Israel. For many years, Israel remained the crossroads for international imperialism, war, and trade.

It’s hard to believe at first, but this highway offers a practical principle for our daily lives.

It’s all about influence.

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How to Keep Your Spiritual Horse from Racing to the Barn

Our greatest motivation to obey comes from a better place than fear.

Have you ever ridden a horse that wanted to run for the barn? You have to keep constant tension on the reins, and never for one moment relax your grip. Actually, you’re riding that horse right now. 

How to Keep Your Spiritual Horse from Racing to the Barn

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I remember once as a boy riding a horse on my grandfather’s farm. The horse figured out he could go to the barn whether I wanted him to or not. So, off he (not we) started running! After about 60-seconds of a full-on run, the saddle loosened and I fell off sideways— spinning and flipping in prairie dust and brambles.

My only consolation was the hope that the saddled chaffed the horse as he wore it upside down.

For some real horses, you have to keep them from even seeing the barn. If you neglect to control your mount, and that animal begins to trot barn-ward, you will find yourself riding an animal out of control. There’s no stopping it.

I can’t think of a better illustration for the struggle in your spiritual life.

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